Friday, July 27, 2012

More on why the media sucks.

I wrote recently about how eduction is being used to distort the political message of Barack Obama. In the Washington Post on Thursday, Aaron Blake also writes about this example of eduction and discusses a new one being used in political ads by the Romney campaign. While I certainly applaud Blake for informing his readership about these deceptive tactics, I must say that his general conclusion about this is fairly disturbing, and explains much about what is wrong with the Media in the US:
But the fact is that these two comments further clarify a picture (or caricature, depending on where you stand) of Obama that’s already out there. And plenty of — nay, almost all — people who don’t dissect this stuff as much as we do are going to take the pulled quotes at face value.
Essentially, Blake is arguing that these uses of eduction will be successful because they are used to merely reinforce already existing political opinions. That is, if one thinks that Obama is hostile to business, the eduction I discussed won't raise many eyebrows because it will simply reinforce one's already existing opinion of Barack Obama. This is certainly true (and the comments to Blake's piece certainly reinforce exactly that conclusion), but Blake seems to miss the fact that this mistaken impression of Obama is partly the fault of people in the Media who do nothing to correct these fallacies or provide the context that would show how deceptive these uses of eduction are.

There are certainly many people in the US who will hate Obama no matter what he says or does (because he is black or because he is a Democrat or for some other reason), and there are many people in America who will love Obama no matter what he says or does (because he is black or because he is a Democrat or for some other reason). Political ads and news stories will obviously have no effect on these people, but there is also a range of people who look to the Media to help them sort out these issues. When people in the Media abdicate this responsibility and fail to call out lies and fallacies when they occur, they instead amplify and propagate them and make matters worse. It is very disturbing to read an article in which a member of the media basically "gives up" and essentially admits that his work is pointless.

h/t to Atrios

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