Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fair & Balanced

False information drives me crazy. It matters not who provides the content, if it's factually wrong, it's rejected as much as possible, something all too many people in the world fail to do because questioning the veracity of anything (religion anyone?) takes far more effort then accepting, a fact the news media takes advantage of when presenting the "news" to us 24/7. Here are some commonly accepted inaccuracies you might find rather interesting.

"In most cases those who had greater levels of exposure to news sources had lower levels of misinformation. There were, however, a number of cases where greater exposure to a particular news source increased misinformation on some issues.

Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely), most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points), the economy is getting worse (26 points), most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points), the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points), their own income taxes have gone up (14 points), the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points), when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points) and that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points). The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it--though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican.

There were cases with some other news sources as well. Daily consumers of MSNBC and public broadcasting (NPR and PBS) were higher (34 points and 25 points respectively) in believing that it was proven that the US Chamber of Commerce was spending money raised from foreign sources to support Republican candidates. Daily watchers of network TV news broadcasts were 12 points higher in believing that TARP was signed into law by President Obama, and 11 points higher in believing that most Republicans oppose TARP."

After reading this, it's no wonder why network news has become such a wasteland because, as predicted by the great film, Network, news is all about the money, not about accuracy, something rather scary as an unfettered press courageous enough to do significant reporting on all things political and corporate is historically considered to be the only viable mechanism able to maintain a democracy, a notion increasingly abandoned due to the fact six corporations control over 90% of the news media in the world today.

Addendum, even though BRT has shown this clip before, it is, IMHO, the best explanation as to what the real world is all about and the role network news plays in it.

"Falsehoods not only disagree with truths, but usually quarrel among themselves."
Daniel Webster
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