How often have you turned to some national news show only to see two people on opposite sides of an issue arguing with each other? Usually it goes something like this: The host of the news show will put out a hypothetical question. Coming up next we’ll find out which is more racist, the Democrats or the Republicans? We’ll discuss this question and more with a high profile member from the Republican Party and another high profile pundit from the Democrats.
Now how many people will actually tune and listen with an unprejudiced ear? It is rare to find a person in America who truly holds no opinion either way on any of these subjects and will open themselves to be influenced one way or the other in five minutes of two people throwing explicit and implicit insults at each other. Some people might call this fair and balanced news reporting. But in all honesty it’s nothing more than a slightly more civilized version of the Jerry Springer Show.
I haven’t really paid much attention to CNN lately and decided to do something different this morning. Instead of my usual of watching the local broadcast from the CBS affiliate KMOV-TV I decided to see what was happening on CNN. It didn’t take long for me to regret my decision. This morning the public was treated to a new segment where one of the whacky crazy antics of zanies from the far left is compared to a single crazy antic from one of the zanies on the right. I turned the television off and dragged my disgusted ass to work.
As I drove to work I thought of the implications of CNN’s new segment. Right now the chaos over healthcare is being ratcheted up to seriously scary levels. On the conservative side we see people holding up signs calling the President a socialist or a communist, we see pictures of the President done up in makeup similar to Heath Ledger’s Joker from one of the Batman movies or donning a mustache ala Adolph Hitler, we see people taking handguns to protest holding signs with subtle threats about shedding blood and offing bureaucrats, and we see conservative politicians easily stirring up this hornets net of fear with insinuations that the current government administration wants to employ “death panels” that will make the decision to kill the elderly and the infirm and whoever else they deem unworthy of life. On the other hand, we have the Speaker of the House saying that the over the top protests of shouting and the refusal to listen is un-American. But picking one from each side simply makes all the zaniness look even handed.
It’s a familiar tactic. It is one of the tactics that has been employed against any talk of racism. The moment somebody says we have racial disparity you can count the seconds before somebody says something like, I’m a white person and back in school a black person beat me up and stole my lunch money. But it’s a rather asinine attempt to equate racial disparity to somebody getting their lunch money stolen by somebody who’s on the other side of the racial divide. But if we follow the method of comparing a single event from one side of a wrong to a single event on the other side, we can make the illusion that both sides of the racial divide are equally wrong.
It is a fact of life that on any issue between peoples there will be jerks on both sides. But simply because there are jerks on the other side of the divide doesn’t automatically equate the wrongs of the two. Just because somebody is an idiot on one side doesn’t negate or equate to all the idiocy that occurs on the other side of an issue.
CNN continues to do a disservice to the public by doing its unfair share of fanning the embers of disorder and confusion in order to make the most out of any controversy. And instead of reporting on all the stupidity we’ll focus only on one fringe act and that way people won’t get the complete picture in order to make a completely informed opinion. So CNN reports only a small part of the story and then asks people to call in with their opinion of what’s happening. And even the reporting of the opinions won’t be an accurate picture of how people truly feel. CNN will pick two opinions from one side to read and two opinions from the other. It gives the impression that the split is straight down the middle when it may be anything but.
But controversy and a confused public and an impression that things are even is an easy formula for good ratings. It works for Jerry Springer. He started out trying to be serious about informing the public. But he quickly discovered that controversy was good for ratings. Mr. Springer gave up his show about informing the public for the current circus he is infamous for. CNN started off trying to be serious as well. But with each and every change they make to their programs they become more like a circus as well.
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