Thursday, April 21, 2011

[Snarky Liberal Blogpost Title]

Is it actually possible to be “fair and balanced?” I know that's a tagline from FoxNews, and therefore it seems like it'll be aimed directly at them. But that question goes to all network news. Since that network came on the air, or to be fair (and balanced?), even before that, shows like Crossfire gave the same sensational debate-as-news concept. The airwaves of debate TV has pretty much become the absolute norm. It gets ratings. Just like fake wrestling does. And that’s the problem. There’s little difference.
News has changed a great deal. It’s expected. Everything changes with the times. Papers now give way to websites. We’ve gone from Cronkite to Stossel to Hume. The 70s film Network is just as relevant now as it was when it was made. We’ve seen this downward spiral for some time. That’s what makes it disgusting to know that a people sat idly by and allowed this to happen. Now they cheer it. We know this keeps the people dumb, but we don’t seem to mind much.
Here's a sample of the basic skeleton of every discussion on such a show:

Host:                To discuss monkey anuses today we have Conservative Man and Liberal Girl. Thank you for being on the show.
Both:                Thank you for having me, Host (spoken together).
Host:                I'll start with you, Liberal Girl. Do you think monkey anuses are destroying America?
Liberal Girl:      No I don't, host. [Liberal talking points] [facts] [liberal talking point] [fact] (with occasional snickers from Conservative Man).
Host:                Conservative Man, isn't that crazy talk?
Conservative Man: Absolutely. [Comment about how stupid liberals are because they fail to realize the bible clearly says monkey anuses are evil] [Conservative talking point] [Badly stated fact out of context] [Insult toward Liberal Girl]
Liberal Girl:      [Liberal defense poi-
Conservative Man: [Conservative talking point, loudly stated with belittling tone!]
Liberal Girl:      [Libera-
Host:                [Suddenly inappropriate question interrupting Liberal Girl from making a real point, having little to do with anything, not allowing the last conflict to be resolved in any way]
Liberal Girl:      But the problem with that is [highly factual Liberal Talking Point] [attempt to explain th-
Conservative Man: ["Fact" that has been repeated over and over again and not fact-checked, throwing wrench into the entire works of this being a real discussion]
Host:                We'll have to leave it there. Up next, giraffe testicles: are they killing your children?

[Meanwhile at home with the people]

Liberal viewers: Wow, she really nailed him.
Conservative viewers: Wow, he really nailed her.
Independent viewers: Wow, he really nailed her. But her hair was pretty.

There's no way to get actual news out of that sort of program. Facts are given equal space with, and often are drowned out by, hysteria and hyperbole. There's even less way to get anything out of it in the typical FoxNews model, which is slightly varied:

Host:                With us to discuss whether Obama is an alien android from outer space is [Conservative Blond], and from somewhere the internet, [Liberal Sellout Who Was Desperate for Airtime], good to have you with us.
Both:                Thanks for having us.
Host:                So what do you think [host misses the entire irony behind his/her use of that word, think] Conservative Blond?
Conservative Blond: Well, host, this is just another typical stupid thing about liberals, [Conservative talking points intermixed with falsehoods so absurd any Kindergarten child could see through them], [supposedly funny joke that's merely offensive and not even funny]
Host:                Let's let Liberal Sellout answer to that.
Liberal Sellout: I resent being called that. [Liberal talki-
Conservative Blond: [Interruption containing highly insulting statement]
Host:                [Interruption containing little more than a restating of the false fact, in an accusative manner suggesting Liberal Sellout (who we really didn't let answer that after all) is actually for said evil thing that doesn't really exist]
Liberal Sellout: [Incredibly good point (if you're lucky) that destroys their entire argument, if they were paying attention, which they were not]
Conservative Blond: [Blathering to cover up the fact Liberal Sellout destroyed her]
Liberal Sellout: [Fact that destroys their argument again]
Host and Conservative together: [Outrage over how facts are inconvenient to everything they want to be true and acting offended, usually saying something to the affect that her facts are just what liberals want you to think, or that intelligent fact-checking is just something liberals try to trick you with]
Host:                [I'll let Liberal Sellout have the last word on the issue, who, in fact, we've not really said much of anything non-ad hominen about whatsoever, and act as though this generous act is given because we in fact defeated you]
Liberal Sellout: [Liberal talking poin-
Host:                I have to go, we're out of time. Thank you both for being here.
Both:                [Awkward silence, then both say thank you with gritted teeth]

[Meanwhile at home]
Conservative viewers: Liberals are so stupid... derp!
Liberal viewers: I can't wait to blog this on MediaMatters so all the liberals know what stupid shit FoxNews just did.
(Well known fact, this really is the only reason any liberal ever watches this network. Why would any others bother?)
Independent viewers: Liberals are so stupid. So are conservatives, but liberals even moreso because I've been told to think so more often, so derp. Besides, they're so faggy with their facts and their intelligence and stuff. They make my head itch. (Removes tinfoil hat to scratch head)

Again, all that can surface through any interruption-infested debate of this manner are little more than talking points that amount to bumper sticker statements. No actual depth of knowledge can develop. The human mind reacts to fill in the gaps with what they already believe, making it so they are not challenged. This comfort zone intoxicates them. At the risk of evoking Godwin’s Law, it can be said that the same method of information-cleansing was practiced by the Nazi propaganda machine, and blindly obeyed by those wanting to believe in it. Humanity often needs the challenge of fact to save it from itself.
It is baffling to think so many people willingly lie to themselves that they are trying to become informed by listening only to what they want to hear. The 70s film, Burning Man, was right when it portrayed a people who need to witness the sacrifice of an enemy. People of modern times continue to need to watch a political opponent destroyed on the station of their choice. Where they begin to speak truth, especially inconvenient truths, interruptions and insults appease the audience like lashings of a whip.
News media suffers little complaint or risk in this most cowardly of formats. Everybody equally thinks their side won. Nobody takes a stand to declare a fact a fact. While the viewers of such news would consider the opposite—a declaration of absolute fact—to be somehow Orwellian in nature, the opposite is true. George Orwell did not feel the need to harp on the right for everyone to hear whatever they wanted to hear and to never be challenged. Rather, he said:

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.
If that is granted, all else follows.

There is no reason to give equal time to those who insist it makes five. Just as there’s no freedom being served by granting equal time to flat-earth theorists, or those who ridicule evolutionary theory without first understanding it. Some things are completely false and must be discarded. To do otherwise is not to be  fair and balanced... to the facts. That's what doesn't come through. Facts. And it's not fair and balanced to those of us who need to hear them.
            Even as far back as 2004 Jon Stewart was trying to say this... not on FoxNews, but on Crossfire. They invited him onto the program in hopes of his comedy bringing a lively bit of laughter to their show. Jon, however, did not attempt humor. He simply had one thing to ask them. “Stop it.” His case was that they had an opportunity with their placement on the airwaves to inform people and challenge the atrocities of the political reality. They did not do this. The opportunity was squandered, instead, for easy ratings.

They were surprised by his reasoning. They tried to laugh through this in an attempt to keep him funny, to keep him belittled as nothing but a comedian, to keep him acting as nothing but a jokester. It failed. He had no stomach to joke where the media allowed for the absurd. And his plea is genuine. We need better media. We have it, but it's all on liberal and independent web sources that are frequently denounced and drowned out by corporate run media. The repeated myth, echoed daily from conservative media, is that media has been (or still is) liberal dominated for so long that their absolute biased agenda is equal time. Those were Rush’s exact words: “I am equal time!”
Meanwhile people magically forgot that the media belonged to corporations. They forgot Network making this case so long ago, not declaring media to be liberal, but plutocratic. The words of Ned Beatty come through loud and clear today:

It is the international system of currency which determines the vitality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. THAT is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today. . . You get up on your little 21-inch screen and howl about America, and democracy. There is no America; there is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. . . The world is a business, Mr. Beale; it has been since man crawled out of the slime. Our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality - one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock - all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

All that is accomplished is powerless drivel that does nothing but serve those who would rather keep you from knowing facts. Liberals can't feel inspired to gather if they can't get their message out there. Conservatives can't hear the facts they need to in order to change their . . . okay, I know, that's an absurd statement because I was about to say mind. Facts cannot come out. Because if there were true, fair & balance time, each person being allowed to truly make their point uninterrupted, with the ability to state the facts that back them up, and a host that doesn't let them (both sides equally) get away with throwing unsupported statements out there, it would look tremendously different:

Host:                Today we have Liberal Girl and Conservative Man, speaking about the Mosque on Ground Zero. I'll let Conservative Man start:
Conservative:   [Probably would start off with how liberals are stupid and are the terrorists’ best friend] [Crazy and false right wing talking points]
Host:                [Challenges these points and states demanding facts. Such as, it’s not a mosque at all. And it’s not on Ground Zero, or even within view of it. In fact, there’s already a mosque that’s closer to it and has been for a while]
Conservative:   [Crazier claims that do little more than reiterate what a bigot he truly is]
Host:                We now turn to Liberal Girl. Lib?
Liberal Girl:      [Liberal Talking Point] [many well supported facts that prove the talking point, and completely show the absurdity of Conservative’s position]
Host:                [Genuine questions that challenge Liberal Girl's points]
Liberal Girl:      [Rebuttle that might even have flaws in them]
Host:                [Allowing Conservative Man to challenge those flaws by asking him a question about them]
Conservative:   [More insane rants, probably not on track, missing the actual opportunity he was given because he's too busy calling liberals stupid]
Host:                [Allows Liberal Girl to answer]
Liberal Girl:      [Does so eloquently and briefly since enough has been said]
Host:                [Concludes with a shrug, obvious to everyone who won the discussion]

[Meanwhile at home]

Conservative viewers: Boy, he sure showed her!
Liberal viewers: Wow, she really made it all clear.
Independent viewers: This is boring. Is wrestling on?

Seriously, there's little risk, corporate media. Yeah, the liberal would win the debate. But they already do, all the time. Especially in debates between candidates. It never really affects the outcome!
So why all this effort to pretend they’re being fair and balanced, while preventing facts from getting out there to the people? Because it doesn't get ratings, that's why. You can get some real news coverage on Democracy Now! or NPR for example, but how many people really watch these programs? How often are their stories passed fervently around in emails with WHOLE SEGMENTS of words shouted in ALL CAPS because apparently they’re SCARY ENOUGH to whoever wrote it?
There are apps now for people on the go to listen to NPR and Democracy Now! on their cellular phones. But these sources are quickly under attack and their funding threatened by corporate media and their puppet politicians. Eventually two plus two will make five. The liars shout louder the more they feel their lie might be threatened with inconvenient truths. The truthful people are silent in some false sense of self satisfaction, not realizing that those who need to hear facts won’t.
Please . . . do what you can to support reliable media, and never miss an opportunity to do what you can to fill the world with truth. It’s the only fair and balanced thing you can do.