Looking Left and Right Quote of Note # 46 (D. Froomkin)

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An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Dan Froomkin:

Journalists have been suckered into embracing ‘balance’ and ‘neutrality’ at all costs.
But the lack of accountability is arguably even worse because it has the characteristics of a cascade failure. When the media coverage seeks down-the-middle neutrality despite one party’s outlandish conduct, there are no political consequences for their actions. With no consequences for extremism, politicians who have succeeded using such conduct have an incentive to become even more extreme. The more extreme they get, the further the split-the-difference press has to veer from common sense in order to avoid taking sides. And so on.
The political press should be the public’s first line of defense when it comes to assessing who is deviating from historic norms and practices, who is risking serious damage to the nation, whose positions are based in irrational phobias and ignorance rather than data and reason.

To anyone paying even a little bit of attention to what passes for political debate these days, it seems readily apparent that conservatives and liberals have fashioned for themselves an air-tight reality completely divorced from both the one occupied by those on the other side of the political divided, and from reality itself.

Whether it’s politics or a game of badminton in the back yard, it’s very difficult to work through issues in dispute if one party bases opinions and proposals on a set of facts completely unknown to the other. Where’s the middle?

Given the concerns, burdens, and simple time demands on just about all of us these days, it’s perfectly understandable that most citizens cannot and will not devote much time to a greater understanding of the important policy debates of the day. For most, the impact and consequences are too-far removed from daily responsibilities.

Instead, we rely on our carefully-selected and preferred media outlets to provide us with bite-sized bits of news—duly skewed toward our ideologies and beliefs. Conversations with the other side don’t last long when each party is fed completely different information.

But not understanding what the facts are, what’s at stake, and how legislative efforts will play out in the real world next week or next month of for the next ten years puts us all in a bind. Decisions are being made on our behalf by those with their own motivations and interests which are too often unlike our own. With no informed input from us, our “leaders” are thus free to act on behalf of their more significant benefactors. We all lose, and we aren’t even aware it’s happening!

There is a substantial portion of the media not specifically aligned with liberals or conservatives. They can and should provide an invaluable service to the countless millions unable to devote the time to appreciate the significance of policy—those who have not aligned themselves with Fox News and its brethren or MSNBC and its own.

Courage and honesty are in too short a supply as is. We can’t afford to have those on the front lines of information and understanding back away from those fundamental responsibilities. There are enough of their peers doing that as it is—too many.

~ My Photo: in Rockport, MA – August 2, 2005

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I’m a writer Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
by sharing observations about the ideologies
which motivate our political, economic, and cultural discussions.

Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi

This blog is offered to encourage more enlightened public discourse—by sharing observations about the ideologies which motivate our political, economic, and cultural debates. The simple hope: shedding light on current “strategies” will prompt more of us to realize a different approach is at least worth considering … assuming a better future is worth pursuing. (It is!)

The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein