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Monday, April 14, 2014

Your News Versus My News

Your News Versus My News


Back in the day, when I was young, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite were The Men. We all listened to them on network news and believed if they said it, it must be so. They played it straight down the middle and then it was up to their viewers to decide what they thought. That didn't mean we agreed on every issue (i.e., the Vietnam War) but at least we were all basing our opinions on the same set of facts.

I don't remember when the conservatives first began to feel that their issues and ideas were not being given fair representation in the news but the Rush Limbaugh Show began in 1988 and quickly became the top-rated show on the radio. Rush' followers were thrilled that an outspoken conservative was taking on the establishment and winning. His fans called themselves Dittoheads, never questioning his assertions. Rush, of course, made no effort to tell both sides of any story. He leaned so far right, he often tipped over into pure conspiracy.

The next conservative leap came in 1996 when the Fox News Channel went on air. In one of the most breathtakingly false declarations of all-time. Fox billed itself as Fair and Balanced. Under the leadership of Roger Ailes, Fox (like Rush) existed to push the conservative line. Fox became, and has remained, the most watched cable news channel even though neutral research organizations have shown over and over that Fox is the least reliable. I really don't even consider Fox a purveyor of news but rather of propaganda.

Naturally, liberals attempted to fight back by developing their own sources of news that leaned their way, as with MSNBC which gives liberals the news with a left-leaning bias (although I would argue, not quite as deceitfully as Fox). They also have some liberal radio talk show hosts who, although moderately well-known, never became household names like Limbaugh.

And finally, we all became consumers of the internet and along with that, came blogs of every description. Matt Drudge was one of the first to hit the big-time with the Drudge Report but a veritable flood of blogs followed, from both the left and right. Again, it seemed as if conservatives put way more passion into their submissions. Perhaps that's because liberals weren't all that dissatisfied with the mainstream (known in conservative circles as "lamestream")  news.

So, here we all are now, with our very own tried and true sources of news, sources that are often in direct conflict with one another. Black is white to conservatives and white is black to liberals. Don't believe in climate change? You can find innumerable talk show hosts and news anchors and bloggers who will back you to the hilt. (Not many scientists but oh, well, everyone knows 99% of scientists are bought and paid for by, by, well I'm not sure by who, but spout the party line.

Is Clive Bundy a patriot or a deadbeat? Was George Zimmerman a hero or an over-zealous wannabe cop? Is voter fraud the problem or is voter suppression the problem? Is Barack Obama a Christian American or a Muslim alien?

Not to worry, just seek out "your" sources and you'll be told you're right and that anyone who believes the opposite is a moron.

When I debate with my conservative friends, I try to back up my argument with what I consider reliable sources - The Christian Science Monitor, Scientific American, USA Today, Forbes, etc. - but it doesn't matter. For many of them, if it didn't come from Rush, Breitbart, RedState or Barack Obama's Dead Fly, it simply isn't information that can be trusted.

What does this mean for the future of America? What does it mean to remaining the UNITED States of America? Two completely different news streams giving two completely different sets of alternate facts seems like an insoluble problem in overcoming our problems as a nation to me.

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