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Friday, February 23, 2007

Fair and Balanced?

"A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on." - Mark Twain

Political machines excel at creating these lies. They understand that damage from fictionalized stories are very difficult to counteract. A video has recently been put together that shows some insight on how it's done. This example deals with the pre-emptive strikes by the right on Barack Obama. We saw it with John Kerry in 2004, we're seeing it with Senator Obama, and we'll undoubtedly see it again against the eventual Democratic nominee.

It's a shame, because when watching or listening to the news programming of certain networks and stations, I can never be sure of how reliable the source is. Analysts like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity are more caught up in delivery than in quality. My buddy Saj puts it well: "The substance of what they say is shrouded by how they say it...and the how is more important."

It's unfortunate, but Fox News + Rush Limbaugh = Obfuscation of the masses. Pundits like Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, and Glenn Beck have very popular programs - not because they're accurate, but because they perpetuate the groupthink with which conservatives have become familiar. It's comfortable to listen to smart and important people that agree with you. I have friends, colleagues, and acquaintances that only listen to conservative talk radio and watch Fox News. They think everything that is being fed to them is gospel. In fact, in the conservative media's ultimate projection of feelings, they claim that every non-conservative network, station, program, pundit, and analyst are the "liberal media." The fact that Fox News considers itself the news network that is most middle-of-the-road is laughable. Really. I thought it was a joke the first time I heard that their slogan was "Fair and Balanced." The joke works on so many levels - wit, sarcasm, irony...and it's not even a joke.

Do the followers of conservative radio and Fox News ever take a step back and look at the big picture? Do they realize that no one is to the right of Rush and Fox? They are as conservative as it gets. How can that be moderate? How can that be middle-of-the-road? How can that be fair and balanced? By definition, the furthest right cannot be in the middle. On the left, we see Air America and talk show hosts like Al Franken. As a liberal, I would never argue that these are fair and balanced opinions. I would argue that they are part of the left.

And that is a concession the right never makes. To be conservative, they think, is to be correct. They are the middle, despite nothing being to the right of them. That kind of groupthink is as paradoxical as it is shameful. When it comes to identifying liberal bias and a liberal media, the right is wrong.

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