During the early years of the George W. Bush Administration, following the vast corporate press failure that helped lead our country into war, I spoke at an independent media conference in Northern California. I wasn’t sure how the audience would respond, but I proudly held up a copy of HUSTLER Magazine featuring my investigative report on rightwing extremist Ann Coulter’s blatant voter-fraud felonies in Florida. “Sometimes you go to press with the media you have, not the media you want,” I quipped, paraphrasing Bush’s Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
It wasn’t a shot at HUSTLER. It was a compliment, and it was greeted with applause. In the wake of 9/11 and two wars, the corporate media for the most part was unwilling to report on anything that might be regarded as reflecting poorly on the Bush Administration or Republicans in general. Throughout that long, dark period, and in the years since, this magazine has always been willing to cover issues that matter. While America’s corporate news entities continue to disappoint, I am very grateful that HUSTLER isn’t just a fearless news source. It also boasts fervent fact-checking, which seems virtually nonexistent these days!
The media’s failure was on display again in the run-up to the 2016 election. After shamefully fighting for access to reality-TV spectacle Donald Trump and striving to prove to rightwingers that they were not biased toward Democrats, the news media simply gave up covering what most Americans say they care about. And ultimately they destroyed Hillary Clinton over utter nonsense.
Andrew Tyndall, who has been tracking nightly network news programs for decades, released a report two weeks before Election Day. He found that coverage of issues on the networks’ flagship evening news programs had all but disappeared. “Issues coverage,” Tyndall explained, “is differentiated from candidate coverage thus: It takes a public policy, outlines the societal problem that needs to be addressed, describes the candidates’ platform positions and proposed solutions, and evaluates their efficacy.”