The Top 7… hated habits of the mainstream media

Above: Whatever you say, terrifying anger lady

"Whom did CNN contact for a comment about Blitz: The League? They didn't contact Doug Lowenstein. They didn't contact the drooling cretins at Penny Arcade. They didn't even contact a single gamer, I guess because they wanted the truth.” – anti-game crusader Jack Thompson, toGamePolitics

One of the key tenets of journalism is to at least pretend to be impartial, something that most credible news sources do pretty well. But it’s getting increasingly easy to tell where biases lie – especially in TV news, where bias and controversy mean bigger ratings. More and more, news anchors spout shaky “facts” about games, reporters refer vaguely to “the research” that supposedly links violent games to violent crimes, and those who speak in the game industry’s defense are either shouted down or laughed off as obsessive losers. Attitudes frequently range from thinly veiled suspicion to righteous indignation, with a full range of patronizing derision in between.

Above: This well-informed gentleman is providing a valuable service to society!

And then of course there are the pundits, who get to be so openly vocal about their opinions that they don’t even have to present opposing views.

Clockwise from upper-left: Gavin McKiernan of the Parents Television Council, host Glenn Beck and Jack Thompson. None of them areknown for liking games

All that said, it doesn’t really bother us so much that TV pundits and newspaper columnists are slanting their coverage to pander to older, more technophobic audiences. No, what bothers us is that they’re all so smugly ignorant about it. They routinely spout weird bullshit – like Beck does in the above YouTube link, when he asserts that Grand Theft Auto IV is based on Pentagon-developed technology – and more often than not, they seem more than a little proud of how little they know. Because, you know, games don’t really matter. And neither does an informed public, apparently.

“You can go into an adult strip club [in Grand Theft Auto IV], have oral and anal sex, uh, S&M between women in the club…” – former attorney Jack Thompson on Glenn Beck

"There is no reason an adult should have [Animal Crossing: City Folk]." - Andy Anderson of the Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force, ina report by ABC affiliate KMIZ

Above: Is that cat thing a pedophile? Eh, some cop said maybe, so we better run with it

About 80 percent of reporting is just talking to people, so to a certain extent, reporters have to trust their sources. But when you can find heaps of contradictory information in about five seconds on Google, you don’t really have an excuse for nodding in sage agreement as would-be censors and fretting yahoos shoot their mouths off about how videogames are deliberate crime trainers and/or Islamic propaganda.

Above: Holy shit, really?

In the above video, for example, an Indiana TV station offers up an object lesson in not believing whatever you’re told. The story revolves around a young mother who was horrified when she found that her daughter’s copy of the DS game Baby Pals contained a line of babble that sounded an awful lot like “Islam is the light.” The news team immediately took her concerns at face value and sought an opposing comment in the laziest way possible: by contacting Nintendo, who didn’t actually make the game, and then not following up with the actual publisher when they found out who it was.

Above: Oooh, scary

If they had, they might have learned that the “hidden message” was actually random babble from anactual baby. But then, that would have turned their “parental alert” story into a story about a jumpy mom who’s maybe a little xenophobic, so maybe it’s just as well that they just portrayed Nintendo as shady and evasive and left it at that.

Of course, all that is small potatoes next to the many times gamer favorite Jack Thompson has appeared on TV, credited as an expert and completely unchallenged, as he drones on and on about “cranial menus,” and how all school shooters are obsessive gamers, and how game companies know they’re breaking the law even though all those judges repeatedly ruled that they’re not.


Oh, except for that one time: