Filling Airwaves with Spin is not Fair and Balanced

I sit in front of the TV and I wonder what is going on. Has everybody been brainwashed? Is nobody rational? Or do all those pundits think America’s viewers are so dumb we will accept anything – even the most egregious trash – as “a debate”?

I heard a lot of reasonable speeches from the Democrats last week. Obviously, the speakers were trying to make a case for their platform, but, despite the obligatory rhetoric, the case was made with restraint and respect.

So why do the media feel duty bound to portray this eminently adult event as being on a par with the insulting travesty presented by the Republican Party in Tampa?

The “mainstream” pundits are bending over backward to find falsehoods in the Democratic speeches, for example. Read the “fact check” articles and you find the authors desperately splitting hairs and quibbling over vague nuances in order to avoid being accused of bias against the Republicans – who obviously have no regard whatsoever for the truth.

Here’s an example. The Democrats claimed that President Obama’s administration created more than 4.5 million private sector jobs.  On CNN, the “fact checkers” contended that because so many jobs were lost in 2009 as a result of the Bush administration’s catastrophic economic crash, there has been  only a net gain of 300,000 jobs over the course of the Obama administration to date.

Obviously, it was never the intention of the Democratic speakers to claim a net gain of 4.5 million jobs over the entire course of the Obama presidency. What they meant was that once the economic free-fall that greeted Obama’s inauguration was checked, the trend was reversed, resulting in a gain of 4.5 million jobs since that time. CNN conceded as much by saying:

The (4.5 million) number … is an accurate description of the growth of private-sector jobs since January 2010, when the long, steep slide in employment finally hit bottom.

In other words, the president did, indeed, create 4.5 million jobs once his policies began to take effect. So why is that statement being cited as a false claim?

I think it’s because CNN so badly wants to avoid any accusation of bias after reporting on  the scandal resulting from Paul Ryan’s avalanche of lies at the Republican convention.

I see that kind of craven “journalism” over and over. Newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times have responded to accusations of “a liberal bias” by adding right-wing sophists to their Op-ed stable. And CNN has “analysts” like Erick Erickson, who was described somewhere as “a vile blogger” and lives up to the reputation in his CNN rants.

Even on MSNBC, which is considered the liberals’ answer to Fox News, they feel obliged to invite right-wing propagandists to rebut the statements of liberal – or even neutral – guests. And what do these propagandists do? They reiterate the well worn “talking points” dreamed up by Republican strategists through such campaign tools as focus groups.

What do the people who control these TV programs think? That viewers will weigh the opposing arguments and come to a rational conclusion? Or that the broadcasters will be able to claim they’re fair and balanced?

Look, I don’t view MSNBC to hear Republican “talking points.” If I wanted to do that, I would switch to Fox News or tune in Rush Limbaugh on the radio. So when those pre-programmed talking heads come on, I hit the mute button.

As for CNN, I watch it less and less.

It would be much more enlightening if the media would attempt to sort through the spin and separate fact from fiction. That would be the responsible thing to do. But it would be a lot harder. And it would invite savage attacks from the propagandists whose balloons were being popped.

Click here for CNN’s “fact check.”

Click here to read about CNN “analyst” Eriksen.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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