The Latin phrase given to us by the Romans Cui Bono in essence means who benefits from this? As we continue to teach the public ways of sorting out accurate news from opinion, we have to look at why “opinions” seem to get tossed in with facts in the first place. The simple answer is to influence readers and listeners. But, who benefits from influencing the public? Again a simple answer, those in power or those seeking power. Or do they?
Most people would be amazed to learn how much of our news is owned by powerful companies and/or powerful men. CNN was bought out by an AT&T owned corporation and at its head, Jeff Zucker, has great influence on how the news is presented. It has gone from the heyday of reporting on wars from the field or disasters like 9/11 from the site to presenting a clear political view of the world. Zucker is not without political ambition and is reported to have considered running for Mayor of NYC.
Perhaps the most transparent example of how the process of news works today is the purchase of The Washington Post by Jeff Bezos. For several generations one of our nation’s premier papers was owned by the Graham family. It was widely known and respected, earning many awards for sound and verified reporting on stories such as Watergate. The paper struggled financially and along came Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and the world’s richest man at the time. We can only guess that as a wealthy business owner it would be to his advantage to have influence in the seat of the nation’s political power. With the power to influence national politics, he is in a great position to benefit his personal interests. For instance Amazon pays NO income taxes.
One can easily see the progression: Money begets Influence and Influence begets Power. This is just one example. Other players include Comcast , the Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, and 21st Century Fox, just to mention a few.
When the news was presented as defined in the dictionary as a broadcast or published report of noteworthy information and recent events, it was more accurate, truthful and straightforward than opinionated. There are still news sources dedicated to delivering the truth to consumers, but with more news channels to choose from and many being owned by wealthy people or corporations it is common practice to find the news presented with a slant or twist. It seems like the news stations and publications that fit into that category are in a race to the finish line to accumulate the most viewers and readers. Who benefits from winning that race? The influential, the powerful, the powerful wannabes…in short the ones who want to rule. It’s like watching a superhero story where the villain’s goal is always to rule the world!
Our purpose of writing this blog is to alert readers to this phenomenon in news reporting. We want people to equip themselves with the power to detect fact from fiction and to hold news sources responsible for doing what they should do…accurately report noteworthy information and events. Once news consumers flip the script and hold reporting sources accountable for delivering the truth, then…cui bono?
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