By its very definition, the term “news” means something that is happening now. What qualifies as news in the mainstream media is largely events that are occurring in the here or now. In many ways it doesn’t matter whether it’s a crime, a fire, an accident, a scandal, or a “dog bites man” type of story; it just has to meet a very broad definition of “breaking.”
What gets lost in the mainstream media is those issues that extend over an extended period of time; the ones that involve perspective and concentration. No issue could represent the overlooked story to the mainstream media better than efforts of Democrats in the United States Senate to reform the rules regarding the filibuster.
Filibustering is a stalling tactic and thus it is a perfect way to push today’s news into the far reaches of “yesteryear.” This means that it’s highly unlikely that the issue will find its way into day-to-day reporting by the mainstream.
The fact that the filibuster is not on our daily radar screens does not mean that it is a minor issue. The Republicans have used it like an anesthesia to deaden our concern about what is happening – or more accurately what is not happening – in the US Senate. Their use of the filibuster has left numerous federal agencies rudderless because no one has been confirmed to direct the agency. Some commissions like the National Labor Relations Board have been thoroughly hamstrung from operating because so many seats are vacant that a quorum cannot be achieved. Our judicial system has been crippled as dozens of nominees for federal judgeships have not been confirmed, thus further grinding the wheels of already-delayed justice.
In many ways the public receives news about the filibuster debate in the Senate in a way that is similar to the way in which the proverbial frog responds to being in a pot of water that is doing a slow boil. The public snoozes through a slow-moving issue that is of exceptional importance. Amnesia and more sets in while the Senate sleeps on an important issue until it is nearly forgotten. This impacts virtually every component of our lives.
The mainstream media does not bother to keep us informed about the fact that nothing is happening in the Senate to break the gridlock. They would rather alert us about the latest word on the “royal baby.” With local news, it may be something as earth-shattering as a family picnic.
MSNBC is capable of giving us valuable information from both the current time and the recent past. However, the cable station becomes increasingly snarky which devalues whatever else it might report.
We are largely left to ourselves to guard against slumbering while the pot is beginning to boil. The mainstream press keeps most people in a haze as vital news issues pass us by. We and the media had better wake up quickly before the nation crumbles because not enough people were awake to warn the others of the impending danger.