Writer Frank Rich
It cannot be disputed that political issues are not only sensitive but also very complex. The sensitivity of politics stems form the influence that it has on various facets of the society. Basically, political decisions have diverse impacts on the holistic wellbeing of the citizens. In essence, they have a direct impact on the quality of life of the citizens. For this reason, it is very important for vital benchmarks and quality standards to be put in place to ensure that the politics put in consideration important measures pertaining to the quality of life of the citizens. It is widely agreed that in most instances, political ideologies further the personal interests of the politicians.
The public plays an important role of putting in place important checks to evaluate the behavior of the politicians. The media in this regard plays a fundamental role of underscoring the inconsistencies in the political ideologies. Bringing them in light enables the politicians to respond accordingly in line with the public expectations. One of the media persons that have been on the forefront with regards to criticizing American politics is Writer Frank Rich. This paper provides an in depth evaluation of his career and political thought.
Frank Rich is an American columnist and essayist. He was born in 1949 and has worked for The New York Times for thirty years now. As a new writer, he was appointed a chief theater critic. Since 1980, he has held various positions in the New York Times. In 1994, he was appointed an op-ed columnist and his weekly essay is published every Sunday. Starting June 2011, he is expected to quit New York Times as an essayist and to join New York magazine as he editor-at-large.
Before he began working for the New York Times, he worked for Time as a film critic, for the New York Post as a film critic and for the New Times Magazine as both a senior editor and film critic. He was also a founding editor of Richmond Mercury in the early 1970s (Rich and Aronson 59). Having worked for fourteen years, the columnist has diverse knowledge in theater and political issues. Metaphorically, he has the ability to distinguish smoke form fire and clarify political issues to the public accordingly. His political perceptions and criticisms are not only insightful but also informative and entertaining.
In his recent publication, The Greatest Story Ever Sold, he uses theatrical vocabulary to describe the career of Bush as well as his speech in detail. According to him, the media played a leading role in presenting the decisions of Bush in a positive manner. This is regardless of the fact that the political decisions undertaken by this political leader were inconsistent with factual information. In this, he criticizes the decisions of Bush after the September eleventh attack. According to him, there is more than what meets the eye regarding the decision of America to wage war after the attacks.
Rich also criticizes the role of the media in bringing in light important information form the president. In this regard, he posits that intensive editing that eliminates sensitive political information is basically geared towards protecting the selfish interests of the politicians. In particular, this is done to protect the politician’s status at the expense of the public that has a right to know everything that the president says. To a great extent, the writer contends that the media plays a leading role in propagating the political ideologies. The media personnel place particular emphasis on protecting the image of the president instead of providing the audience with factual information.
Basically, Rich analyzes politics in terms of theater. The role of the editors in manipulating political information is usually likened to the theatrical processes that are related to handling and processing important data. Further, Rich criticized certain media houses such as the Fox News for exhibiting bias when reporting political news. In 2004, he accused this house for extending bias towards the conservatives. This illustrates the inherent media bias that make sit difficult for the public to be given an objective view of political issues that affect their general wellbeing the most.
With respect to Iraq, Rich analyzes the elative political aspects in light of US’s effort to closely link it to the September attacks and weapons of mass destruction. In this regard, he argues that despite a meeting held by high profile personnel to determine the relationship being unyielding, they still believed that Iraq had a hand in the attacks. In this respect, he posits that from a political point of view, one can always develop a relationship between two different aspects that are not related in any way to the other. The public according to the author is vulnerable because it ends up believing the false relationship. This can only be countered by the efforts of an aggressive and skeptical press and those of a political party. Currently, the validity of the information presented in the media has increasingly come under criticism. Rich indicates that the public is charged with the massive responsibility of differentiating between facts and fiction. In most instances, the media is usually sold out.
In his The Ghost Light, the writer details the troubled marriage of his parents (32). Later on, the marriage was dissolved an in order to cope accordingly, he resorted to theater operations. From his point of view, he believes that the present day politician is supposed to be exploitative of mass culture in order to be successful. In this regard, he indicates that successful politicians use the advanced technology to project their image and character. In addition, politicians are more inclined to the culture of their citizens or subjects rather than being shaped by their own individuality. In other words, the image and character of the modern politician is greatly shaped by the popular culture. The level of cultural manipulation for political interests by the politicians is seemingly very high. The writer indicates that the public should focus more on the underlying issues in order to have a clear and objective understanding of political ideologies.
From a political point of view, the author believes that visual messages are very influential. A classic example in this regard pertains to the increasing use of motorcycles by politicians. The increased media presence has in some instances impacted negatively on the image of the politicians too. In particular, some of the negative public utterances have in some cases adversely affected the political careers of some politicians such as Senator George Allen. Reportedly, he was caught on camera insulting one young man. Another example pertains to Senator Conrad Burns who was caught on video dozing off when a hearing was in process . Such negative publicity affects not only the career of the politician but the general perception by the public too.
In 2006, he commented on the memoir scandal of James Frey and informed the public that he would always employ the column in informing it about the truth of political and cultural ills. Informing the public about the flaws in the relationship between the media and politics would go a long way in enabling the public to make informed political decisions. Also, rich blames the American public for exhibiting laxity with respect to addressing the mistakes that are done by the politicians and the media. Since they are well informed, the writer argues that they are in the best position to make informed decisions regarding various issues. In addition, they have been empowered with democratic rights that they can effectively employ in making viable decisions. To a great extent, Rich blames them for failing to address the issues pertaining to the Iraq war. In this regard, they did not take time to review the decisions that the President Bush was making. This contributed to loss of tax payers’ money on unjust violent operations (Polk 57).
In his essay entitled Why Wouldn’t the Tea party Shut it Down? Rich indicates has politicians are less concerned about their political obligations such as determining the national budget (Polk 69). Instead, they constantly wage ideological warfare in various states. They also embark constantly on destroying constructive movements such as collective bargaining. Their main goal is usually to reward their efforts and pursue their personal interests with ease. The writer indicates that they pursue the political ideologies such as waging war so aggressively that they forget to address the important needs of the local Americans. This has led to the destruction of important political values that were held in high regard by the society. In particular, national values pertaining to equal economic opportunity and shared sacrifice have increasingly been overrun. In the long run, they place greater emphasis on their selfish interests and destroy the important value system that has held the American society together since historical times.
In sum, the writer is well informed about the political issues that America grapples with on a daily scale. He knows the flaws in the political system and blames the media for perpetuating the respective flaws. In addition, he cites that the public has also been reluctant with respect to addressing emergent political concerns in an effective and timely manner. This is regardless of the fact that they have been always been informed about the political inconsistencies that undermine pursuit of justice. Seemingly, media houses such as fox have not been objective when addressing important political news.
Considering the fact that they are very influential, they have played a leading role in misguiding public decision making. Also, the writer argues that images and visuals are held in high regard by the politicians. In order to succeed, current politicians need to align their practices to the popular culture. This tendency according to the author undermines important national values that have been instrumental in enhancing national stability. In general, the author’s experience in political criticism has enabled him to inform the public of the current shortcomings in the American political system.
Rich Frank and Aronson Lisa. The Theater Art of Boris Aronson. New York: Knopf, 1987. Print.
Rich Frank. Ghost Light: A Memoir. New York: Random House, 2000. Print.
Rich Frank. The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina. New York: Penguin Press, 2006. Print.
Rich Frank. Mel Gibson Forgives Us For His Sins. New York Times. March 2004. Web. 12th March, 2011.
Rich Frank. They Got Some Splaining to Do. July, 2009. The New York Times. Web. March, 2011.
Polk, George. Awards for Journalism Press Release. USA: Long Island University, 2006. Print.