Friday, September 26, 2008

MSM and Objectivity

Paul Krugman once quipped that should Bush claim the earth flat the following headline would appear the next day “Shape of the earth: opinions differ”. His point was that a false version of objectivity holds sway over the MSM and this has a profound affect over the quality of news coverage. The media sees it as their job to report how opposing political groupings view an issue all the while withholding judgment on the issue itself. This sometimes gives news coverage an Alice in Wonder Land character. Take the recent controversy about “putting lipstick on a pig”. Rather than simply dealing with what Obama said and the absurdity of characterizing such a comment as a smear directed at Sarah Palin, spin doctors were brought in on both sides to give us their interpretation of what was implied when Obama uttered said comments. We do not need an authority to tell us the meaning of a mundane saying. Call a spade a spade and then show us that spade.

Another problem is that just because one side is able to appeal to legitimate authorities does not mean that the media should seek out some huckster on the other side, in the name of “balance”, and pass him off as being equal in statue and yet this happens all the time. This has allowed the right to assert that there is serious debate when a learned consensus exists. There is no debate about the merits of Darwinian theories of evolution as compared to Intelligent Design. There is no debate about whether climate change is occurring. Learned opinion about Insite is not spilt and learned opinion is not spilt about Harper’s criminal justice plans either.

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