Monday, March 28, 2011

Liberal Media, Conservative Bias

Cranking one of these out every day isn't easy.  I haven't exhausted my entire stock of family stories, but frankly since they're family stories, it has to be the right kind of mood before I'll let one of those out of the box.

Every Sunday evening when we all gather for dinner and ice cream at the grandparents' house, at some point we seem to wind up talking about pets.  I'm not inclined to do that, either.

My heart gave a little pitter-pat when I read the headline that Sarah Palin has announced that she was "through." Turns out, she's through griping about the liberal media.  Yeah, yeah, yeah - why is it the media is always "liberal?"  No griping about Fox News, I notice.  They're not liberal about anything except their scorn for the Democratic Party.  Nice job crossing the aisle, guys.  Way to cooperate.

Not that any other media outlet is doing much better.

I'm going to look at, much after the fact, the NPR debacle, the so-called "Muslim Brotherhood in America" fiasco that shoved the news outlet to the front page.

As I've mentioned before, it's not a good thing when the news itself becomes part of the story.  How well can we trust our news sources when the sources themselves are the news?  You wouldn't trust a doctor who operated on himself, would you?

What started the NPR fiasco?  That's easy: James O'Keefe.  And who, you may ask, is James O'Keefe?

He's a nutjob.  No offense to his parents, but the guy is a loose cannon.  O'Keefe has been arrested for tampering with the telephone system serving the offices of Senator Mary Landrieu, accused of association with white supremacy groups - I'm having trouble finding more on the veracity of that claim - and flat-out lying when presenting "evidence" showing NPR's culpability and corruption when receiving large donations.  Reading up on the actual events of the Muslim Brotherhood "visit" and the timeline, it quickly becomes clear that good reputations have been tarnished unnecessarily, and O'Keefe cannot be relied upon to represent the truth.

1) Bob Schiller had already tendered his resignation in January, well before the meeting took place in March.  He was serving out his time; he did not resign as a result of this fiasco.
2) The video as presented by O'Keefe shows Bob Schiller laughing at things that aren't funny (like the spread of sharia law throughout the US, patently ridiculous)
3) O'Keefe defends his actions as "going undercover to get at the truth."  Except then the heavily edited video he released shows Schiller reacting in one way to a question, when in fact the unedited version - the actual truth - shows him reacting in a completely different way.

In short, O'Keefe's "truth" is a fabrication.  Whether his goals are laudable or not can't even be determined now.  Whether his suspicions have any merit cannot be determined, his evidence is so suspect, his methods so underhanded, the vehicle by which the data arrives is completely untrustworthy.  What has happened, then, is a conservative radical - a Republican Shiite, if you will - has gone and blown himself up all over a news outlet that has been taken to task in the past for being, depending on who you ask, too liberal or too conservative.

In my book, that's a fairly balanced source.  Nobody likes it, neither the conservatives nor the liberals.

My apologies on the part of the American journalism to Bob Schilling and Vivian Schilling (no relation), who parted company with their careers in an effort to stem the tide of hate rolling toward NPR.  You deserved better.

My admonitions to Congress, crying for NPR's immediate defunding.  Do that and the only news sources easily available to the American public will be funded by advertisers, billionaires, big corporations.  You want fair and balanced?  Good luck with that.  NPR currently gets the lion's share of its funding from the government, which unless you missed a class or three, is actually a pretty-well balanced representative.  It's good that a news outlet might take your lawmakers to task.  That's what the voters are there for, and the news outlets are how we voters find out.  If NPR has to rely on government money to do their job, watching the government itself, then how can you possibly find them at fault, suspiciously eying the hand that feeds them?  With their own heads in the noose at all times, they continue to report the news.  Few things can keep you fairer than having your funding controlled by the very body you're reporting on.  If a little too much bias one way or the other is liable to get you summarily axed, what's left?  Just the facts, ma'am.

The way to spot bias is to be biased.  If you think NPR is biased one way or another, before you decide for certain that they are, first ask yourself whether you aren't.  Then try to step outside of your own political leanings, and look at the issues from the other side.  Don't be surprised if you see bias going back the other direction.  Lo and behold, that's balanced.

I've listened to NPR news for about twenty years now, and Fox news for a few minutes, and MSNBC for a few minutes, and the big three for a couple of years.  None of them is an ideal, completely neutral source.  But so far, the one that offends me the least is NPR.

So when donation time rolls around, NPR, count on my support.  I'll be there for you as long as you're there for me.

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