Category: Bias

My How Times Have Changed! Or Is It the Media That Has Changed?

By , March 4, 2016 12:28 pm

I’m interested in what you think about the differences between the debates in these two videos, one from 1960 in West Virginia, the other from Detroit just last night. Not in the content so much–that is the policy proposals–but in the quality and type of questions the media poses.

Humphrey-Kennedy Primary Debate in West Virginia – 1960

 

Republican Primary Debate in Detroit, Michigan – 2016

 

My view? The media plays at least as large a part in creating these disasters we call debates nowadays as the candidates–more, much more, in my opinion. Fox, CNN, NBC. Doesn’t make a difference. Chris Wallace’s opening question, for example, is not worthy of a debate that will help decide who we might choose a president. (I won’t comment, for now, on the difference in the quality and type of questions in the Democratic debates, other than to say, there is a difference.)

The Roman Colosseum-like crowds? Don’t get me started.

When the Spotlight’s Not So Bright

By , March 1, 2016 8:49 am

Neil Goldschmidt_5629lFor a whiff of why the press is dumping on Trump—as well they should—and not so much on Hillary (and maybe Bernie), you only need read this.

Sunday evening, Spotlight won best picture for its portrayal of the Boston Globe’s coverage of the Catholic Church’s cover up of sex abuse. Abuse such as that should be exposed—and I say this as a fan of the Catholic Church. The light of day prevents rot. So where was the Spotlight in the case of the Mayor of Portland, then Governor of Oregon, Neil Goldschmidt as he cavorted openly with his 14-year old babysitter? Well, some people turned it off because, well, Goldschmidt was such a good governor.

Unless and until we have an equal opportunity Spotlight, things will only get worse. That Trump is leading in the polls is, in part, a response to partisan cover ups like this.

Here’s my take on Trump voters: They’re not responsive to all the well-sourced and factual mud being slung his way because they’ve learned that there’s mud to be slung at the other side, and it’s not being slung. The Spotlight was turned off on Bill Clinton’s shenanigans. Yes, I know the press covered Monica Lewinsky, but grudgingly. But it was all Juanita Broderick who? Kathleen Wiley who? Paula Jones? “If you drag a hundred dollar bill* through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” It’s just sex after all.

And in President Obama’s case, the Spotlight was used only to create a halo at photo ops.**

“So what the hell!” the Trump voter cries, “I’m voting for Trump!”

I’m not. But I know at least one reason why they are.

The Ursula Le Guin reference at the beginning of the second story deserves repeating:

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,’ is set in the ultimate Shining City on a Hill, a place of joy and happiness, full of educated, creative types who spend their days frolicking at festivals and occasionally indulging in (non-habit-forming) drugs that reveal the secrets of the universe while ‘exciting the pleasure of sex beyond all belief.’

There are ‘fast little trains and double-decked trams’ in Omelas. And a farmers’ market.

‘If the child were brought up into the sunlight, … all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed. … The child’s torture is no secret. The good people of Omelas know.’

How great is Omelas that we look the other way? Have a nice day.
.

*Only just now did I notice Carville’s Freudian slip.

**I won’t bring them up here, but I’m not oblivious to the fact that Right has done its fair share of covering up as well, the only difference being that the media is largely liberal, so such cover ups are less successful.

UPDATE: @MZHemingway_2016-03-01_1244

Due Process for Me, But Not for Thee

By , November 19, 2015 7:42 pm

Charles C. W. Cooke, an ex-pat Brit and newly minted citizen of the United States squarely hits the nail that the hammer-headed American public seems to be missing more and more recently. As he writes in the National Review,

As a result, the question here shouldn’t be ‘why does the NRA oppose using this [terrorism watch] list in a civil context?’ but ‘why doesn’t everybody oppose using this list on a civil context?’

Why indeed? Why do so many people fail to see that our constitutionally protected rights to due process are nowhere to be seen in the President’s proposal to deny Second Amendment rights to anyone found on that secret list? The mind boggles.

The Facts Versus The Meme

By , October 4, 2015 9:41 pm

I’ve read more than once, in reaction to the recent tragedy in Oregon, that we need to regulate guns. Of course, we do regulate guns–at the federal and at the state level. If you’re interested, here’s the most recent version of the ATF Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide, all 233 pages of laws, regulations, Q&A’s explaining the morass of laws, and more. A full 9 1/2 pages of just the Gun Control Act of 1968 is devoted to Section 922: “Unlawful Acts.” The phrase “It shall be unlawful” is used 22 times in that section, usually leading off long lists of unlawful acts. And that’s just one act. The Guide also contains the National Firearms Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and a section of the law governing the Postal Service as well as four different “Parts” of the Code of Federal Regulations.

And that’s just Federal Law. Each state and many cities have their own laws, many of which are much more restrictive than the Federal Law, which essentially sets the minimum standards. For example, the assault weapons ban is no longer on the federal books. But don’t tell that to California or Connecticut. The NRA provides a handy guide of state law if you’re interested.

Finally, none of this takes into account the fact that it’s crime punishable by imprisonment and even death to kill someone with a firearm. Use a firearm in the commission of a crime, and generally the punishment for the underlying crime is enhanced. Etc. etc. etc.

Could more be done? More laws? More regulations? Reasonable minds differ–and they’re not all on the anti-gun crowd.

People Are Complex, Even Vice President Joe Biden

By , May 31, 2015 4:34 pm

I don’t know what I have to remind myself constantly of the thought stated in my headline. People are complex. Too often we tend to peg people based on very little evidence or evidence from just one sphere in their lives. I do it. I’m confident you do it.

I did it with Vice President Joe Biden, who sometimes in his many gaffes becomes a caricature of a caricature. But you know what? Joe is a complex man, a man with more than one side. I saw another side of Joe today when I read this, and in an instant, he changed before my eyes.

Now you’ve read the linked-to story, what do you think?

Cute Kittens and Lying Memes

By , November 30, 2014 8:31 pm

Posted without just one comment: If it weren’t for memes and kittens, there would be no Facebook. The menace of memes: how pictures can paint a thousand lies

Cross posted at GregoryTaggart.com

Cat Fight: A Statistical Debate over Equal Pay for Women and Sexual Assault

By , November 30, 2014 8:11 pm

The Federalist Society regularly hosts some very interesting and fairly balanced panel discussions of topics related to the Society’s mission “to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law.” This past September, the Society put on a panel titled “Passion and Prudence in the Political Process: The Debate Over Federal Civil Rights Policy.”

The panel is interesting for a number of reasons, but I post about it largely because it illustrates so well the problem of “damned statistics.” Not being a statistician myself, I can only express my frustration at the way some people toss about numbers as if the act itself were sufficient to prove their point. For what it’s worth, I think Gail Heriot and Diana Furchtgott-Roth win this encounter hands down, but then, I agree with their side of the issue.

What do you think?

Cross posted at GregoryTaggart.com

Corporations, Corporations, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

By , October 22, 2014 11:32 am

In case you don’t get the allusion in the title, it’s to a stanza in Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

I changed a few words to reflect the thinking of Salon.com’s Lindsay Abrams in her piece Water is the new oil: How corporations took over a basic human right. Two-thirds of the article is an interview Abrams did with Karen Piper, a journalist touting her new book The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos, a book now on my Amazon.com wish list, by the way.

The problem with Abram’s story, however, is that it doesn’t deliver on its headline, nor does it deliver on her claim, a claim she makes near the beginning of the piece: “While it’s shocking to watch a city [Detroit] deny the rights of its own citizens, that’s nothing compared to what could happen if private water companies are allowed to take over.” Really? Why is that? Ultimately, she doesn’t say.

Instead, she goes on (or the interview does) to report example after example of governments (Turkey, for example, LA County for another) quasi-governmental organizations (IMF and World Bank), and wannabe governments (ISIS) that are doing much or most of the water damage.

Now, I don’t doubt that water is (or will be soon) a very big problem. Nor do I doubt that some corporations are (or will be) to blame for some of those problems. But why the headline “How corporations took over a basic human right” when the proffered solution-—government-—doesn’t look so hot and when she offers so little evidence of corporate malfeasance?

Methinks it’s because the word corporation sounds oh so much more nefarious than the word government. Based on Abrams’s story, however, maybe we have more to fear from the guys and gals in the white hats.

Cross posted at GregoryTaggart.com

And Now for the Rest of the Story

By , October 21, 2014 10:12 am

So I was on Facebook this morning, and I read the following headline:

Report: 21 US cities restrict sharing food with homeless people

Among other cities, the article mentioned Salt Lake City, home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Can’t have that in a city so famously religious now, can we?

Turns out we don’t have that, or if we do, it’s not because the city is heartless towards the poor. No, can’t be that because, as one poster noted, Salt Lake City is a model for San Francisco on homeless solutions.

The lesson? Well, at least one of the lessons is that there is almost always another side to a story.

Cross posted at GregoryTaggart.com

Another Dissembling Headline

By , September 11, 2014 7:54 am

Why do they do this? Is the headline tease, the need for readership so important that many in the media stoop to misrepresenting the essential truth of a story. This story for example, from Detroit’s Fox News 2. Here’s a screen capture of the headline:

2014-09-11_Uniform Not Allowed

If you stop at the headline, you’re pissed. Another zero-tolerance policy from a brain dead school administration? you wonder. What’s this country coming to?

And then you read the story. It wasn’t the school, it was a security guard with a firm contracted by the school to handle security. And what did the school administration do when it found out what had happened?

Rochester Schools superintendent Robert Shaner, who is a veteran himself, quickly took care of the situation apologizing to the family for their troubles.

Shaner sent a letter to Fox 2 which says: ‘The district has apologized for any perception that individuals in uniform are not welcome in the school. The district does not have a policy excluding individuals in uniform and will be working with administration and the firm that handles our security to make sure district policies are understood and communicated accurately.’ (Emphasis supplied)

So why is this a story in the first place? You can guess what I think is the reason by looking at the category tags below.

Cross posted to GregoryTaggart.com

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