Friday, July 21, 2006

Today's letter to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reader rep

I would like to understand the rationale behind your “Is that a fact?” series. So far, you’ve analyzed a misleading Republican ad and a misleading Democratic ad. And the point is?

The fact that both parties twist and distort the positions of the other is hardly enlightening or helpful, and may have the opposite effect you desire by reinforcing the widely-held opinion that because all politicians are liars, voting is irrelevant.

What I see in the “Is that a fact?” series is one more unfortunate example of the MSM’s addictive adherence to “balance.” In its attempts not to offend anyone (subscribers), the media continuously goes to extreme efforts to treat every subject as if there are always two legitimate sides to consider. In reality, there are not. The earth is not flat. Period. The earth revolves around the sun. Period. One political party lies and distorts the truth more egregiously and more often than the other. Period.

What would be far more helpful in educating readers than your current, “They said/they said,” approach would be an analysis of positions taken by each party with a discussion of which positions are backed primarily by facts and data, and which positions are backed primarily by ideology and wishful thinking.

Among the scientific community (those who actually know what they’re talking about), there is virtually no argument that global warming is the result of human activity. However, in its effort to balance the discussion, the media continue to print misleading articles and editorials by conservatives calling into question assertions about global warming. In this case, “balance” is resulting in a confused electorate and a dangerous delay in seeking remedies to a very serious problem.

Your goal of educating voters is worthy, but the tit-for-tat approach of “Is that a fact?” merely reinforces the biases of the party faithful and the cynicism of the undecided.

No comments: