The mainstream media has a great impact on how Americans view their culture and history. Take the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing as an example.

Had Donald Trump been the president on July 20, 1969, would the mainstream media have covered the event as if it were one of man’s greatest achievements? Probably not. They would have found fault with it, as they find fault with everything Trump does.

Today’s media would have found a way to blame Trump for the famous words spoken by astronaut Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the moon’s dusty surface: “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” Today’s media would have preferred “human” and “humankind” and deemed Armstrong as sexist, no doubt.

The media would have targeted the space program’s carbon footprint as destructive to future generations. All that rocket fuel going up in toxic smoke would have been deemed immoral. And imagine the little creatures in Cape Canaveral’s sand dunes being toasted alive every rocket launch. I can see the headlines now.

And, of course, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs would have failed to achieve liftoff had today’s media been covering the development of NASA’s space program under Wernher von Braun.

Today’s political pundits, along with prominent Democrats of course, would have surely forced von Braun into early retirement once his past Nazi Party affiliations were known. Without the expertise of von Braun, however, fulfilling President John F. Kennedy’s pledge to place a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s would have failed, and Soviet domination in space and on Earth would have strengthened.

NASA’s von Braun, if you don’t know, was a registered Nazi. He wasn’t a German who happened to excel at science and then was drafted by the Nazi regime. He enlisted in the Nazi Party as early as 1937, according to historians, long before war broke out. He defended his membership post-war, and most agree he was far from an innocent bystander.

Von Braun headed development of Germany’s V-2 rockets, several of which struck London and could have turned the tide in Hitler’s favor had the war played out a little longer. He used Jews as slave labor; some reports say up to 22,000 died under the harsh working conditions.

As the war wound down, von Braun and hundreds of his fellow scientists defected to the American side, and their past was essentially swept under the rug because the Cold War was raging.

Fortunately for the space program, the 1960s-era media were relatively sane and forgiving of past sins. Kennedy’s dalliances weren’t reported, and neither were von Braun’s wartime acts. It was a kinder and gentler media landscape, and reporters weren’t as quick to judge or castigate as they are today.

The reality of news is that every story can be spun. Even the greatest of all news events, the Apollo moon landing, was no different. The media could have focused on von Braun, but chose not to – and still don’t. I’ve yet to see any mention of von Braun in coverage of the 50th anniversary.

When we think of the Apollo program, we think of greatness, excellence and America’s best and brightest. The media shaped that impression. They allowed us to be proud.

I wish today’s media and politicians would take a lesson from their predecessors and refrain from taking every opportunity to bash the president and opposing party or deconstruct every good thing Americans achieve.

Allow us to believe America is great, and maybe it really will be.


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