Monday, April 12, 2010

Sometimes They Lie

After I had written a series of articles called “How News Reporting Really Works.” I’m a systems thinker. The idea of the series was to explain, systemically, how news reporters often get their stories and even their facts wrong. As a result, I was accused of giving the news media too much credit for honesty.
Actually, I wasn’t. I’m quite aware that some reporters deliberately slant the news to make lies look like facts and make speculation look like news. At the time, I had two reasons for not mentioning it: 1.) You already knew it, and 2.) It doesn’t take an entire article to say, “Sometimes they lie.”
A couple of days ago, I electronically copied the top half dozen web sites regarding, “Tea Party Movement.” For reasons of my own, I wanted to compare key words. Two of the top half dozen sites were Manhattan-based mainstream media (MSM) slanted against the Tea Partiers.
The one for Forbes magazine featured the porcine face and equally porcine opinions of Bruce Bartlett, and it was called The Misinformed Tea Party Movement.” The kicker read, “For an antitax (sic) group, they don’t know much about taxes.” (For a journalist, he doesn’t know much about spelling or getting his facts straight.) Like King George III, Porcus Ignorantiam (We’ll call him PI for short) failed to realize that the Tea Parties are more about representation than about taxes.
PI based his conclusion on a survey he pulled on 57 of the several hundred people attending a Tea Party rally. Click here to see his survey questions. (If you’re an English grammar or composition teacher and have a weak heart, I caution you not to see how he phrased the questions. Likewise, if you’ve ever had experience conducting surveys, please consider the state of your health before clicking the link.)
Not even one of the survey questions is a reliable means of measuring people’s understanding of the issues of concern to them. Some of the questions are open to broad interpretation; thus, they’re open to widely disparate conclusions even by experts.
How’s this for a survey idea: Get 57 shameless propagandists who have been cloistered in the offices of magazines far from mainstream America. Place each one’s feet into a tub of wet cement until the cement hardens. Drop them into the ocean with a pen and pad for writing underwater. Then start asking them questions about their situation.
The questions may include the following: How much longer can a person hold his breath on land than he can in 100 feet of water? By percentage, what’s the carbon dioxide level in your brain? When sea salt comes into contact with the carbolic acid in your stomach, are the chances of your vomiting more, less, or about the same? How many swollen or ruptured capillaries are in your eyeballs at this moment?
If they’re not able to answer those questions, shall we conclude that they’re ignorant of their situation? May we thus conclude that they’re not really drowning?
Surely, Bruce Bartlett deserves the Ananias Award for Dishonest Reporting. (Oink! Oink!)
One of the sites (no longer in the top six, so I can’t locate it) said that the Tea Partiers are not populists. His creative line of reasoning read like a Monty Python script: Most populists identify themselves as mainstream conservatives (whatever that means). The article’s writer identifies Tea Partiers as to the right of (whatever that means) mainstream conservatives. Since they’re to the right of mainstream conservatives, they’re not populists.
Excuse me, but didn’t he say that most populists identify themselves as mainstream conservatives? Doesn’t that mean that some populists are not mainstream conservatives? Even if we excuse the writer’s ignorance of political theory and history, and even if we excuse his careless labeling, his entire argument hinged on a single point that he managed to get wrong.
Newsweek magazine went so far as to condemn Tea Partiers for their populism. Isn’t it amazing how MSM, with all their informational resources, can’t get their stories straight yet accuse millions of average Americans of being ignorant?

You may remember the CNN reporter who recently badgered Tea Party demonstrators in Chicago. She suggested that residents of Illinois shouldn’t complain about the so-called “Stimulus Package,” since a lot of the money went to Illinois. Check out the You Tube clip here.
Here’s a little experiment you may like to try—on second thought, you’d better not. Steal her purse, hop a flight to her home state, and max out all her credit cards. Then ask her how wonderful she feels about the money being spent in her home state. She deserves the Cujo Award for Most Obnoxious Bitch.
Many years ago, as I walked along an abandoned causeway in Sparrow Swamp, I suddenly found myself surrounded by hundreds of rattlesnakes. I had to calmly and carefully make my way about 100 yards along the causeway until I reached safer ground. I had to remind myself that they were probably more afraid of me than I was of them.
Tea Partiers, you have my sympathy. When you find yourself besieged by MSM reporters, stay calm and be careful. They’re probably more scared of you than you are of them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be making those strange noises at you. You’re not doing what you’re doing to convince MSM; you’re doing it for the people reading their rags and watching MSM’s antics on television. You're doing it for all of us.

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