Tim Giago: Mainstream media ignores the real issues
When I was a boy we lived in the Pine Ridge Reservation community of Kyle. My father, Tim, worked as a clerk and butcher for Chris Dam, a man who owned the local market.

One Sunday I found my father sitting on the steps at our house watching intently as our pet Bulldog, Butch, carried a large bone in his mouth that my dad brought home from his job as a butcher. Butch would dig a hole, place the bone in the hole, quickly cover it with dirt and then walk around the yard sniffing the air. He would then rush back to the hole he had just dug, dig up the bone, and find another spot to dig so he could re-bury the bone.

This activity went on for quite a long time as Butch repeated his activity and finally my father said, “That dog is going to worry that bone to death.” His comment has come back to me several times over my lifetime because the term is so applicable to what is happening around us for as far back as I can remember.

When I watched the 24/7 news channels go on and on about Anna Nicole, my dad’s comment came to mind. When I watched the media overkill on the Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami tragedy in the Pacific, and now the media strangulation of Don Imus, my father’s words come back to me.

It seems that any event the mainstream media feels is newsworthy is an event that will be played over and over with slight variations until we finally just tune it out. These media decisions are apparently made in some corporate office in New York City and the deciders seem to believe that whatever the easterners find newsworthy is a reflection of how the rest of America must feel. And that is totally wrong.

The Anna Nicole story played for about two issues on the inside page of our local daily here in Rapid City, SD and then it was gone. I never saw one line about it in the Indian newspapers I read. But the bottom line is that we are not idiots. If there is a story the mainstream media finds intriguing, we read it, we understand it, and then we move on. We don’t need to see it day after day, night after night, and hour after hour. As much as the mainstream media would have you believe, we are not a nation of sheep.

What other news stories are being ignored while the MSM (mainstream media) pontificates and hyperventilates over stories of sensationalism? The 24/7 news channels have clearly influenced the once staid network news channels to fall in line. What used to pass as news is nearly unending “Infotainment.”

Well, I and many other Americans do not want to be entertained by our news sources. We want the hardcore facts presented to us in an intelligent manner so that we can sift through them and make up our own minds about what it means to us.

This past week the two Reverends, Al and Jesse, showed up on nearly every news channel on the airwaves. It is true that millions of other American, including me, detested the horrific comments made by Don Imus on his radio and television show. They were thoughtless, heartless, and racist. But I do not need the media to use Al and Jesse to beat me over the head hour after hour. Believe it or not, most Americans are not racist and most of us went to the heart of this matter immediately.

I was in the news several years ago and my political situation caused Rush Limbaugh to make some comments about me on his radio show. Because I am an American Indian, he chose to use an array of tired clichés such as “smoke signals, tipi, and powwow” to indicate how hip he was on Indian issues. Well, I do not live in a tipi or use smoke signals to communicate but I will admit to attending one or two powwows each year. It was just the idea that in order to define who I was, Limbaugh had to bring in what amounted to racist speculations to make a connection to me.

The MSM needs to get out of New York City and come out to the hinterlands to discover that there are folks out here that do not subscribe to their brand of news. We read it or see it one time and that is enough. We do not want to, or need to, be literally inundated with news about Anna Nicole, Don Imus, or the two Reverends. They might even ask themselves if these stories are really news? Didn’t such stories used to be seen on Entertainment Tonight only?

The few times the Indian people of America see the national media is when there is something tragic or controversial happening. Remember the hours of coverage at Wounded Knee II in 1973? The media came, they saw, and then they left, never to return. How many of you have ever wondered what happened in the aftermath of Wounded Knee II? Remember the school shooting tragedy on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota? What happened at Red Lake after the tragedy? These are stories that also need to be told.

Heading into an election year you can bet your boots that the MSM will find many bones to worry to death while we, the real mainstream, continue to turn off our television sets and radios sick and tired of a media that treats us like a bunch of thrill seeking idiots.

Did we bring this upon ourselves? Edward R. Murrow must be spinning in his grave.

McClatchy News Service in Washington, DC distributes Tim Giago’s weekly column. He can be reached at najournalists@rushmore.com. Giago was also the founder and former editor and publisher of the Lakota Times and Indian Country Today newspapers and the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in the class of 1990 – 1991. Clear Light Books of Santa Fe, NM (harmon@clearlightbooks.com) published his latest book, “Children Left Behind".

More Tim Giago:
Tim Giago: Racism and hypocrisy over Imus (4/11)
Tim Giago: Kill the Indian and save the child (4/9)
Tim Giago: The dark legacy of boarding schools (4/2)
Tim Giago: Tribes continue to surrender sovereignty (3/26)
Tim Giago: Venezuela steps up for Indian nations (3/19)
Tim Giago: Cherokee Nation votes out Freedmen (3/12)
Tim Giago: Oglala Lakota Tribe still struggling (3/5)
Tim Giago: A view from South Dakota, the 'red' state (2/26)
Tim Giago: 'Chief Illiniwek' does his last dance (2/19)
Tim Giago: Greed is the new God in Indian Country (2/12)
Giago discusses 'dark legacy' of boarding schools (2/5)
Tim Giago: Writing helped heal wounds of abuse (1/29)
Tim Giago: How many others will die over Iraq? (1/22)
Tim Giago: Apache journalist opens doors in media (1/15)
Tim Giago: Newspaper fills gap in South Dakota (1/8)
Tim Giago: Recognize an Indian hero in the new year (1/2)
Tim Giago: Christmas and Lakota traditions (12/25)
Tim Giago: Sen. Johnson never wanted the spotlight (12/18)
Tim Giago: The 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee (12/11)
Tim Giago: R-word just as insulting as the N-word (12/4)
Tim Giago: Mainstream media lacking in accuracy (11/27)
Tim Giago: Thanksgiving - A holiday of the imagination (11/22)
Tim Giago: State stifling growth on reservations (11/20)
Tim Giago: Taking stock of Election Day 2006 (11/13)
Tim Giago: Few roles for Indians in Hollywood (11/6)
Tim Giago: Freedom of the press has a chance (10/31)
Tim Giago: Important election day for South Dakota (10/24)
Tim Giago: White media ignores Indian contributions (10/17)
Tim Giago: Termination a dirty word in Indian Country (10/10)
Giago: Domestic violence from a male perspective (10/3)
Tim Giago: Culturecide started with innocent children (09/19)
Tim Giago: Indian people mark 500 years of terrorism (9/11)
Tim Giago: Lawsuit challenges church on abuse (9/6)
Tim Giago: Day of reckoning for Oglala Sioux Tribe (8/29)
Tim Giago: Tribes giving up their sovereignty (08/08)
Giago retires as editor and publisher of magazine (8/4)
Tim Giago: States looking for ways to take from tribes (8/1)
Tim Giago: Religion invaded Native America (7/25)
Tim Giago: Daily screw ups in tribal governance (7/18)
Tim Giago: Happy Birthday to Van Cliburn and me (7/11)
Tim Giago: South Dakota tilting further to the right (7/3)
Tim Giago: Americans still the invaders in Iraq (6/27)
Tim Giago: Tribal colleges in Bill Gates' backyard (6/21)
Tim Giago: Gaming brings new wealth, new problems (6/13)
Tim Giago: 'Oz' author called for genocide of the Lakota (6/6)
Tim Giago: Too much uncertainty in gaming (5/30)
Tim Giago: Deny gaming to newly recognized tribes (5/23)
Tim Giago: Congratulations to the class of '06 (5/16)
Tim Giago: Rich tribes should help poorer tribes (5/9)
Tim Giago: Fighting substance abuse at Pine Ridge (5/2)
Tim Giago: Censorship in the mainstream media (4/25)
Tim Giago: Brainwashing on Pine Ridge Reservation (4/18)
Tim Giago: The growing pains of tribal sovereignty (4/11)
Tim Giago: Indians most affected by immigration (4/4)
Tim Giago: Little attention for Native American Day (3/28)
Giago: Oglala Sioux president on state abortion law (3/21)
Tim Giago: The road to true tribal sovereignty (3/14)
Tim Giago: The basketball miracle of 1936 (3/7)
Giago: Real problem in South Dakota is race relations (2/21)
Tim Giago: Yes, Virginia, Indians do pay taxes (2/14)
Tim Giago: Gas-guzzlers, Indian cars and the Big Three (2/7)
Tim Giago: Lions, Tiger, Bears and Indian mascots (1/31)
Tim Giago: Christians and Muslims still at war (1/24)
Tim Giago: Bush started Iraqi war over 'dark lie' (1/17)
Tim Giago: Fire Thunder out of limbo after 66 days (1/10)
Tim Giago: The Olympics of Indian basketball (12/20)
Tim Giago: BIA schools turned abused into abusers (12/13)
Tim Giago: Fire Thunder shakes up establishment (12/6)
Tim Giago: Della Warrior steps down from IAIA (11/29)
Tim Giago: Deloria gave Indian people a voice (11/22)
Tim Giago: Indians never forced religion on others (11/15)
Tim Giago: Exposing false medicine men (11/8)
Tim Giago: Government ignores Indian health problems (11/1)
Tim Giago: Indian newspapers revise history (10/25)
Tim Giago: Two friends make journey to spirit world (10/18)
Tim Giago: Politicians need to know Indian law (10/11)
Tim Giago: Doors opening to Indians in South Dakota (10/4)
Tim Giago: 'Indian' myths and misconceptions (9/27)
Tim Giago: Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina (9/20)
Tim Giago: NCAA loses its spine on mascot policy (9/13)
Tim Giago: The Indian 'scandal sheet' phenomenon (08/30)
Tim Giago: Indians became refugees in own land (8/23)
Tim Giago: Censor tribes for supporting mascots (8/17)
Tim Giago: New addiction takes over in Indian Country (08/02)
Tim Giago: Tribes trade sovereignty for dollars (7/26)
Giago: Seminole Tribe wrong on Indian mascots (7/19)
Giago: Underground Railroad to escape boarding school (7/12)
Giago: Skeletons hidden in Rapid City's closet (07/07)
Tim Giago: Air Force base not a blessing to Lakotas (6/30)
Tim Giago: Tribes to claim downsized military bases (06/07)
Tim Giago: First revolutionary was a Native man (5/31)
Tim Giago: Many 'wannabe' tribes seek recognition (05/17)
Tim Giago: South Dakota press censors Indian writers (05/10)
Tim Giago: White lawyers growing fat off tribes (04/26)
Tim Giago: Gay marriage debate killed Democrats (4/19)
Tim Giago: It's time for wealthy tribes to think Indian (04/05)
Tim Giago: Wealthy tribes don't need federal funds (03/31)
Tim Giago: Gaming leads to addiction, crime (03/22)
Tim Giago: Discrimination in the media and advertising (03/08)
Tim Giago: Black Hills land theft a dishonest deal (03/01)
Tim Giago: Committing slow suicide with foods (02/15)
Tim Giago: Bush probably still against Indian gaming (01/25)
Tim Giago: Calvary re-enactors should know better (01/18)
Tim Giago: Racism continues in South Dakota (11/30)
Tim Giago: Should we listen to Osama bin Laden? (11/23)
Tim Giago: GOP moral values will hurt Indian Country (11/09)
Tim Giago: Indian reformists stamped out tribes (11/02)
Tim Giago: I'm not a racist and I haven't seen NMAI yet (09/29)
Tim Giago: Eastern tribes are African-American (09/15)
Tim Giago: Indians have cause to fear Republicans (07/21)
Tim Giago: Casinos create culture of 'us' and 'them' (06/30)
Tim Giago: Boarding schools cause of many ills (06/14)
Tim Giago: 'Real' Indians don't fight over money (04/05)
Tim Giago now plans to run for Senate as independent (03/31)
Tim Giago: Indians pay no taxes, and other myths (01/26)
Giago: Indian gaming erodes tribal sovereignty (01/07)
Giago: Gays were highly respected by Sioux Nation (09/22)
Tim Giago: I'm a fully recovered Catholic (09/11)
Giago: State should refund tax money first (08/06)
Giago: Oprah show changed minds on Indian mascots (07/31)
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