If you’re one of the millions of Americans who gets news and information from TV news, please read this and think about it every time you see someone on your screen shaping your opinions. Many of these people are simply performing.
Radley Balko has an amazing little nugget of information at his excellent Agitator blog today that you really need to see. Balko received an email from a TV producer with a promotional email from attorney Jeffrey Steinberger, who markets himself to stations as a “celebrity attorney” and legal analyst. Read the entire post, but here’s the key part:
“Attorney Steinberger is available to discuss all civil matters as well and any other legal matter not mentioned above.
“Attorney Steinberger is able to take a position on either side of any case– defense or prosecution.”
He brazenly admits that he’s willing to take either side — depending on which role the producers need him to fill. In other words, when you’re listening to him, you’re not listening to his opinion. Instead, you’re listening to him play a part assigned by a TV producer. He’s using his credibility as an attorney to gain your confidence and sell you a position. It’s dishonest.
When an attorney appears somewhere representing an actual client, he’s entitled to say or do whatever’s in the best interests of that client and is also consistent with his ethics. When he appears on TV as an “expert,” we’re entitled to assume he’s giving his honest opinion. What Steinberger does isn’t illegal, but it should be chilling to anyone who gets his news and information from TV.
Turn your televisions off. Quit listening to the screaming idiots on the tube. I’ve said for years that “TV news” is an oxymoron, and this is just one of the many reasons why it’s true. In the meantime, please read “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” by the late Neil Postman, who explains why television is destroying the ability of people to have an informed and civil discourse today. The situation was bad when he wrote the book in 1985, but it’s much worse today.