The Royal Scam: A Press Corps at Its Lowest Point

Seriously, who gives a damn?

The attention that American mainstream-media entities are giving to the worthlessness in Windsor Castle today is nothing short of repulsive, an indictment of the Fourth Estate’s fetish for frivolity over seriousness and substance, a worsening of the anti-intellectual trends in American culture. Why are we paying so much attention to a couple that will probably be divorced less than a decade from now?

It’s embarrassing to see the press gush over Harry and Meghan in such treacherous times. Would that American mainstream-media entities gave as much attention to the following crises as they give to the royal nuptials:

  • The continued NRA-sponsored bloodbath on the streets of America, most recently yesterday’s carnage in Santa Fe, Texas and Clayton, Georgia. When’s the last time you’ve seen a story on broadcast and cable news about the dynamics that allowed the National Rifle Association to seize control of our politics—and thus bring about the premature deaths of more young Americans?
  • The right-wing domination of our federal court system, as unqualified Trumpistas who just barely managed to obtain law degrees are given lifetime appointments to the district and appellate bench. Reagan and Bush’s federal judges were dangerous enough to the cause of equal justice under law; Trump’s judicial picks make Robert Bork look like Thurgood Marshall in terms of legal philosophy.
  • The hazard of unhealthy drinking water across the United States, a hazard that Trump administration officials are attempting to cover up. Speaking of drinking water, with the exception of Michelle Wolf’s proclamation at the conclusion of her White House Correspondents Association speech, when’s the last time you saw a story about the continued human-rights disgrace in Flint, Michigan? Is the story not sexy enough? Are the victims not white enough?
  • Speaking of human-rights disgrace, why doesn’t the crisis in Puerto Rico attract sufficient mainstream-media attention? Where are the broadcast and cable stories pointing out that Puerto Rico, abandoned by the racist Trump administration, remains highly vulnerable to the consequences of extreme weather fueled by human-caused climate change? (Because God forbid there’s at least one program on cable news focusing on the greatest threat facing civilization today, and tomorrow.) Apparently, like Flint, Puerto Rico isn’t considered glamorous enough.

Yes, it can be argued that the royal wedding deserves significant coverage because of its historic nature (i.e., Markle’s diverse background). However, will any reporter or pundit note that Markle may be safer in the UK than she would be had she remained in the US? After all, these days, were she to walk into a Starbucks, go to a public park, or check out of an Airbnb, it wouldn’t take two seconds before some Trumpista called 911, hoping that law enforcement would treat her roughly.

In 1961, then-FCC head Newton R. Minow denounced television’s intellectual decline, observing:

It is not enough to cater to the nation’s whims; you must also serve the nation’s needs. And I would add this: that if some of you persist in a relentless search for the highest rating and the lowest common denominator, you may very well lose your audience. Because, to paraphrase a great American who was recently my law partner, the people are wise, wiser than some of the broadcasters — and politicians — think…

I say to you ladies and gentlemen — I remind you what the President said in his stirring inaugural. He said: Ask not what America can do for you; ask what you can do for America.1 I say to you ladies and gentlemen: Ask not what broadcasting can do for you; ask what you can do for broadcasting. And ask what broadcasting can do for America.

I urge you, I urge you to put the people’s airwaves to the service of the people and the cause of freedom. You must help prepare a generation for great decisions. You must help a great nation fulfill its future.

Yeah, good luck with that.

The public interest is not served with saturation coverage of the royal wedding. Trump and his cronies love this coverage; it distracts the American people as they plot new and innovative ways to steal our democracy and attack perceived enemies. In its obsessive coverage of the royal wedding, and in its downplaying of real stories and real threats, the press is helping those who wish to divorce this country from its highest values.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.