Thursday, February 21, 2008

Don't trust the media

Years ago, during the whole Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky brouhaha, I was working a rinky-dink job in the now defunct cybercafe, Internet Alfredo, in San Francisco. The day that all the salacious details went out online is one that I'll never forget, because we were bombarded with media attention. Okay, "bombarded" might be a bit extreme, but I fielded at least a couple of phone calls (one was broadcast on BBC radio) and a news crew came in to film.

Why were they coming to us? Is it because I'm a former boyfriend of Monica Lewinsky? Of course not, but the assumption was that everybody was going to be going online to check out all the details about Bill's cigar and Monica's hoo-ha. Realize, this was when the Internet was still catching on then, and I actually knew some people who didn't have email back then. So, the kinds of questions that I was being asked was, "Are people packing the place to read all the details?" I hated to disappoint them, but I think that there was only one person who came by for the express purpose of checking it out. Business was slow in general at that place, and it hardly picked up that day.

What really got me was the news crew that came in. The reporter actually said that people were "riveted to their computers, reading the news." they weren't. Still, she came there for a story, and I guess she wasn't going to be bothered to look for something that was actually happening.

It was pretty eye-opening. If that "story" was pretty much made up, then what else is?

Not only that, but on the rare occasion when the news reports on something that I really know a lot about, like comic books, they almost always get something wrong. Now, maybe comics aren't important, but if they can't get their facts straight about that, what else are they goofing?

Don't even get me started on how my local paper actually gave some legitimacy to people who check out crop circles in the hopes that aliens created them. (They didn't, get over it. We know that regular people can do it, so asking if aliens did it makes about as much sense as blaming leprechauns for your missing car keys.) Even more recently, they had an article about "psychic" phenomena and how supposedly there's a neighborhood that's haunted and some idiot's going to talk to the ghosts. Ugh.

There's a lot of criticism of the media. I don't really buy the whole thing about the media being "liberal." I'd be more inclined to agree with that if some tougher questions were asked about Iraq BEFORE we went in. (Like how we were going to deal with the sectarian animosities - why weren't they all asking that? Shit, I know that I thought of it, and I'm hardly an expert!) Of course, there's Fox News, which is most definitely NOT liberal. I wouldn't mind them so much if they weren't so Orwellian with their doublespeak about being "fair and balanced." I'd respect them if their motto was, "Conservative, so what are you gonna do?"

I've been badgering a conservative blogger lately, and we've been going back and forth on the pundits. He did, quite rightly, point out that maybe I should actually watch their shows instead of just referring to YouTube clips and when Stewart and Colbert lampoon them. Now, I don't take back the things I've written, because when Bill O'Reilly says something that's clearly false, then it's false no matter how much of his show I did or did not watch. Still, maybe he says a lot of good stuff too - I don't know.

I don't think that I'm going to watch all the pundit shows from now on - I might just have to kill myself if I even try that. What I will do is pick one a week and then write my thoughts on that. I will try my best to give an objective analysis of the show, and I'll try to leave my personal politics at the door. If somebody's on my side but using logical fallacies, then I'll point it out. If somebody on the opposite side makes a good point, then I'll point that out. Of course, to pretend that my biases will not have an effect at all would be the acme of foolishness. But I'll give it the old college try.

The show for next week? Hannity and Colmes. I'll set the ol' DVR for it. Let's see if I can make it to Tuesday without losing the will to live.

1 comment:

Gary Fouse said...

If I can Holmes all week, you can Hannity for a week.