Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Both sides do it

Made the mistake of watching the White House press briefing yesterday. I shouldn't do that. I always end up really pissed off at the prima donnas in the front rows. It makes me want to send rude tweets begging someone, anyone, please march over and slap that smug demeanor off Chuck Todd and Ed Henry's pudgy faces.

But the whole disrespectful, self-involved arrogance is beside the point. It wouldn't matter if they were actually informing the public, but they're not. They're just building a false, and somewhat cowardly, narrative that allows them to create an illusion of neutrality. As if their bias isn't revealed by what they choose to ignore.

Both sides don't do it, dammit. Krugman articulates the danger of their indolence well in this post. Read it at the link. But his closer gets to the real root of why our political discourse is so misinformed.
You have to ask, what would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will.

And yes, I think this is a moral issue. The “both sides are at fault” people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray.
I'm so old I can remember when newscasters reported mostly on policy instead of mainly focusing on horserace and gossip. Experts were chosen based on their knowledge rather than their photogenics and ability to deliver "colorful" commentary, regardless of its verity. Of course, in those days, the news programs weren't expected, or required, to deliver profits for the corporation. They were regarded as a public service.

Today, the news delivery has changed, but the audience hasn't. The vast majority of the voters don't have the time or inclination to obsessively search the internets for context. For the most part they don't realize the context is missing. Many, especially the elderly, still believe they're not allowed to lie on TV, so they take the false narratives on faith. They simply don't know their trusted news sources can no longer be trusted.

This is why our system of governance, and indeed civil society itself, is failing. Sadly, I don't see it changing as long as there is such big money to made on "both sides do it" journalism. To paraphrase the old saw, "It's difficult to convince a man he's the problem, when his livelihood depends on believing he's not."

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Blogger The Heretik said...

So sad. But so true.

1:07:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

As Roger Ailes told us, it's not about the news, it's about the ratings.

2:34:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

The really sad part is it's destroying us. On the bright side, watched a bit of the presser today and outside of Ed Henry, it wasn't as bad as it was yesterday. Or maybe I'm just feeling more optimistic today.

3:21:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

As someone Buddhistic taught, the root of suffering is thinking that things will get better.

Embrace the horror.

4:33:00 PM  

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