Left or Right?


 source – nicoleelkington.com

I had the bad fortune this weekend of being stuck in a car for two hours with Fox News. Fox News purports to be a “fair and balanced” source of information. But for two hours, all I heard was why everything President Obama does is wrong – or even evil. I marveled at the conviction with which commentators excoriated the president on issues such as Obamacare, the IRS, and the economy. Fox also featured a scathing criticism of Hilary Rodham Clinton, a presumptive Democratic presidential candidate.

As I listened, it occurred to me that had the car radio been tuned in to Chicago’s Progressive Talk Radio, I would have been happy as a clam while the liberal pundits wagged their fingers at Tea Partiers and John Boehner. While I might have been happier with the content, I would have been no closer to the objective truth about national affairs.

When I was studying journalism in college, we were taught that objectivity was the ideal. A reporter or news anchor should give no hint of his or her own political leanings. Unfortunately, it is hard to find unbiased media outlets in this politically polarized environment. I find this frustrating and potentially dangerous.

I once read that people with a particular world view tend to seek information that confirms their opinions while discounting or even ignoring material that contradicts it. Furthermore, when a group of liberals (or conservatives) gets together, they tend to become more extreme in their positions.

If this is the case, there is not much hope for progress in the political realm. I think print, online and television news outlets could take a lesson from University of Chicago economist, Matthew Gentzkow, who recently won the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association. Said Gentzkow in a New York Times interview, “People here [at U of C] have a low tolerance for shallow, simplistic liberal ideas and shallow, simplistic conservative ideas.” (Chicago Tribune, “What do you want, a medal?”, April 21, 2014)

Maybe the University of Chicago should publish a national newspaper. I would read it.




3 thoughts on “Left or Right?

  1. Mary, this is the result of the end of the Fairness Doctrine in the 1980’s. Once that happened, flooding radio, then cable TV with partisan talk. Then the Internet provided yet more outlets for partisan talk. As you know, I’m just as guilty as everyone else for swimming in those waters as well. But after a while, it gets tiresome while raising my blood pressure at the same time. That’s why I choose to listen to ESPN Radio during the workday and in the car…much lighter fare, though it has its hearty discussions as well, but in a less serious realm. Listening to ESPN makes me chuckle more than yell at the radio.

    I’ve been considering writing a blog or a political book one day to get my points of view across, but what else more could I say that hasn’t been said already? I may still do so, but only if I can write or say something new that no one else has done. There are hundreds of thousands of political blogs out there that are basically saying (and yelling) the same things, left and right. Rather than parroting everyone else, and encouraged by Time Magazine’s “Ideas Issue,” I’m leaning towards being more creative in solving local, state, and national problems, political and otherwise, that will improve our lives. For example, on Facebook, as you may have seen, I’ve proposed making public safety employees (first responders) as well as all schoolteachers (public and private) exempt from income taxes, in an effort to improve recruitment while thanking the professionals in those fields, giving them a pay raise in the process. Coming up with solutions to problems is more challenging than yelling or criticizing those who disagree with us.

    Thanks for allowing my 2 cents worth. 🙂


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