When President Obama announced that he had chosen three YouTube personalities to interview him, the ridicule began immediately. From Rupert Murdoch to CNN, there was collective media clucking over the choice of interviewers.
Because Very Serious Media was excluded. We can't have that, can we?
One of the interviewers has a terrific post with some sage advice for those media mockers, and if they don't listen, they're going to be dead along with their audience by the end of the decade.
Hank Green first wrote about their backgrounds and why it was he believes they were selected:
We talk about serious topics in our videos through the lens of our own experiences. I talk about living with a chronic disease. Bethany talks aboutbeing bullied. Glozell talks about being racially marginalized (which, let me tell you, has not ended.) We talk about our lives and share our thoughts honestly. Our audiences do not watch us just to be entertained or to get information. They watch us because they like us.
This is, of course, why the White House opened its doors to us. They want to connect with that diverse audience and they want that connection to be sympathetic.
He then takes on the media mockers, and they'd damn well better listen to him too because he's right on the money.
There is nothing actually legitimate about Fox News (or MSNBC for that matter) and young people know this. They don’t trust news organizations because news organizations have given them no reason to be trusting. These channels exist not to inform but to uphold the biases and values of particular ideologies. Ideologies and values, by the way, that very few young people embody. Even when they try to strike a balance, they do it by pitting different perspectives against each other in staged arguments. But neither perspective looks familiar to most people under the age of 40, so they just tune out.
He doesn't stop with that, either.
Legacy media isn’t mocking us because we aren’t a legitimate source of information; they’re mocking us because they’re terrified. Their legitimacy came from the fact that they have access to distribution channels and that they get to be in the White House press pool because of some long-ago established procedures that assumed they would use that power in the public interest. In reality, those things are becoming less and less important and less and less true. Distribution is free to anyone with a cell phone and the legitimacy of cable news sounds to me like an oxymoron. The median-aged CNN viewer is 60. For Fox, it’s 68.
Seriously, this is the crux of it right here. Cable news, broadcast news, radio and print media have assumed they have the right to wear the mantle of legitimacy because they always have. Because it's tradition, they feel entitled.
As Green says, they're not entitled and they're not trusted.
The relationship between press and the politician was once good for everyone. It was good for the press, for the politician, for the Americans, and for the country. We’ve lost that. Certain press organizations have degraded their own legitimacy by forgetting that their responsibility is to more than the shareholder. That degradation has, for young people, spread throughout the entire news media either in fact or in perception. In the process the legitimacy not just of individual politicians but the entire political process has been whittled down.
Fox News certainly won't listen to him, nor is it likely anyone else will in that genre. But they should, because in the end, this is why the President doesn't really care about media gabbling over his choice of interviewers.
If Google and the White House want to use me as a pawn to counteract this bullshit, sign me up. Especially if politicians are OK with a bit more of their legitimacy springing from honesty as well.
And a personal note from me to Hank Green: Thank you for being honest about what it means to be living with ulcerative colitis, and a special thank you for this comment here:
But, I wasn’t going to walk away from a man who has gotten nothing but grief for a health care bill that has made my life immensely easier without saying, “Thanks.”
When you say thanks for that, you're saying it for me and our family too. So thank you.