Friday, May 22, 2009

The Chattering Class and False Dichotomies

What is it with the mainstream media? They set up these false dichotomies playing off Obama and Cheney as if it were a true debate. Obama is the sitting president. What he says matters. He made an extremely important policy speech yesterday that whether we liked it or not, explored the reasons behind his recent decisions regarding Guantanamo, the continued use of military tribunals, and his intention of continuing the practice of indefinite detention of some detainees. The fact that he is now referring to them as prisoners of war, the fact that he is now suggesting the creation of a new 'legal framework' designed with the cooperation of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches to ensure appropriate oversight does not change the fact that he is not only continuing the practices of the Bush Administration, but is in fact, extending them. This is important stuff.

So what does the media do? Every article and news show that discussed Obama's speech compared it to Cheney's speech right afterwards. Photos showed the two side by side. The media loves conflict and if there is none, they make some up. Cheney was on the attack, defending himself, preemptively blaming Obama for any future terrorist attacks, while Obama (rightly) explained that he was trying to clean up the messes left him by the Bush Administration. He would have been more successful if he had actually advocated a clear break and change in direction, rather than a continuation of some of its worst practices, but the media created a sense of conflict by featuring Cheney and giving him the airtime.

Cheney (and Gingrich et al) can give all the speeches they want, but the networks do not have to cater to them. Just as during the campaign they made no effort to report the veracity of what the candidates said ("...if we did not stand up and say, "This is bogus," and "You're a liar," and "Why are you doing this?" that we didn't do our job. And I respectfully disagree. It's not our role."--David Gregory) the media continue to simply act as stenographers to those they consider news makers by giving them airtime and print space. They repeat what was said, give time and space to what they consider to be an opposing point of view--their false dichotomy--and assume that the people watching will then be able to determine who is right. Not for them to provide data with which to consider those opposing points of view. Not for them to actually provide opposing points of view from unbiased sources.

Consider who is out their speaking in support of Cheney. Rush Limbaugh. Now there's an unbiased viewpoint. Newt Gingrich. Now Newt is demanding an investigation of Speaker Pelosi, not because of the truthfulness or not of the use of torture--or enhanced interrogation. No, he is demanding an investigation of the strawman that he has built. According to Newt, the Speaker is corrupt and incapable of leadership because she has impugned the integrity of the CIA. Integrity. Something Mr. Gingrich should know something about. After all, he paid a $300,000 fine for lying to Congress during an ethics investigation after which he resigned his position--as Speaker--and his position in Congress.

And who else is making the rounds--and being given airtime--in support of Cheney's position? Who is an expert commentator and qualified to speak to the veracity of his words and actions? Who have the networks decided is the best able to debate on his side when they create a left/right discussion? Why, (daughter) Liz Cheney of course.

Let's see. In the past 9 days, (and never mind print media), Liz has appeared on:

  • Morning Joe on May 12
  • Live Desk on Fox on May 12
  • On the Record on Fox on May15
  • Fox & Friends Saturday on Fox on May 16
  • This Week with George Stephanopolous on ABC on May 17
  • Your World on Fox on May 20
  • News Live on MSNBC on May 21
  • Hannity on Fox News on May 21
  • Anderson Cooper's 360 on CNN on May 21
  • America Morning on CNN on May 22
  • Morning Joe on MSNBC on May 22 (and this time, for the whole hour)
  • Good Morning America on ABC on May 22
And we continue to listen to them? We continue to give credence to these pundits and this chattering class as our village idiots tell us what is important, and who? The Bush Administration operated from fear. They created a climate of fear and continue to cultivate a sense of fear to avoid being called to account for their actions. The Republicans in Congress have a single agenda, NO. With no other plan, they spend their time building strawmen and pointing fingers away from the real issues. They hope that if they convince people that the real issue is terrorists running free in our cities, we will forget that they are the ones that created the climate that made them terrorists in the first place. Fortunately, we are smarter than that.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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