Censorship in a democracy

I came across this snippet in Reddit. …

Originally posted by an American AKA USAn:

I typically use unbiased or progressive sources for my news and politics, so for one week i decided to limit myself to conservative shows on Fox and websites like the DrudgeReport. I had of course seen clips from Fox shows and even caught an episode or two years ago but I hadn't sat down for multiple episodes in a row like a true fan.

My thesis going into my little experiment was that I would find that the conservative sources were more accurate and less cartoonishly biased and ridiculous than how they were portrayed in my typical news sources. My experience surprised me:

The Facade of Debate: If I only watched shows like The Five, The O'Reilly Factor and America Live with Megyn Kelly I would think that progressives were all weak, dim, unable to argue even basic issues, and that they didn't believe in their overly convoluted (read: not common sense) rationalizations.

The Five is a show with five hosts, where 2 co-alpha males and 2 attractive females belittle an overweight, gray haired buffoon who throws out half arguments then defeatedly nods and exhales as the confident and dismissive conservatives set him straight.

On one episode of the O'Reilly factor, they had a segment on the health care birth control controversy and they brought on a small time radio radio host who would make half a point, get cut off and mocked in a dismissive manner (pattern!) by O'Reilly then giggle and acquiesce.

In O'Reilly's other segments, Geraldo Rivera and Bernard Goldberg, the latter a conservative and the former a Fox reporter and dullard, would again half-heartedly make one or two "progressive" arguments then be set straight by O'Reilly.

The Online Echo Chamber, or How To Self-Censor The Greatest Tool For Communication and Information Since The Printing Press: So the CBO released a new budget projection for Obama's health care plan over 9 years, the big (true) story was that the new projection was billions less than a previous projection and if you searched for articles from non-partisan sources that's exactly what you learned.

However when I did a search for "CBO cost health care legislation" over the first 24 hrs, I got a very different result. For me, the very first result was a Washington Examiner article where the journalist proclaims that the CBO budget shows a 1.76 trillion dollar cost to Obamacare, which he says is nearly double Obama's original claim of around 900 billion.

The problem here is that his cost is a gross cost- it doesn't take into account offsetting revenue and spending reductions which would bring the cost down to ~1 trillion which is what the non partisan sources are reporting. Seems like a clearly, egregiously misleading statement on the reporter's part and surely one that would be quickly rebutted by other sources telling the truth.

The problem is that if you went to any conservative site over the first 24 hrs, literally every single site referred to the washington examiner article alone and made the same claim, that Obama lied about the costs by nearly 100%. If you remember the recent study that showed that Fox News viewers are actually less informed than people who don't watch news at all, you can now see exactly how this happens.

Talking Points As Journalism: Prior to my week of Conservative media I saw a Daily Show segment about a Conservative talking points memo that Fox News's Steve Doocy erroneously read on the air.

Indeed, the most striking part of my experience was how consistently the same set of talking points were made across all Conservative media. On every show and every website the same "common sense" conclusions were made by both "opinion" pundits like O'Reilly and supposedly objective Fox reporters:

a) gas prices were not only controllable by the president but the current price was the result of his energy policy (not the shutting down of refineries on the east coast, not the massive consumption growth by the worlds two most populous countries China and India, and not Iran's blockade of the Strait of Hormuz-> a situation that is conveniently being exacerbated by US conservatives' saber rattling),

b) Obama lied about Health Care costs by 100% as I explained earlier, and

c) Bill Maher's use of the word c**t in describing Palin was equivalent to Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut and Obama was hypocritical to not return Maher's donation. I heard these same points hammered into my head over and over again, without any sort of nuance or debate. Even if your media consumption included non-partisan sources, it would be incredibly challenging to not buy into the only arguments being set forth by every conservative news source that you at least respected enough to consume.

If you believe that Fox's reportage is compartmentalized from its pundit echo chamber, as they claim, then you have no chance whatsoever. The day after the CBO budget was released, every supposedly unbiased Fox reporter's focus was on the 900 billion to 1.76 trillion dollar gap or on gas prices and the president's early refusal of the Keystone Oil pipeline.

In Conclusion, if you're like me and you avoided Conservative news sources like the plague not because they were conservative but because you suspected the reportage was terrible, you were right. And if you feel comfortable in Obama's chances for reelection, mostly because of poor competition, don't underestimate just how misinformed conservatives and right leaning independents may be.

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3 thoughts on “Censorship in a democracy

  1. http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/r0vt6/i_decided_to_consume_only_conservative_news/Big deal. Governments and political parties everywhere have their own spokesmen and advertising agencies or propogandists.In Britain it was illegal to broadcast anything until 1953 unless you were a part of the government controlled BBC.Edit:In 1953 > > The ITV finally got permission to set up an alternative channel. The only other TV station in Britain until the second BBC TV channel.The hold was even stronger on radio as there were no non BBC stations in Britain until the late 1960's.People did more or less exactly what they were told in those days.Of course we still had murders, robberies, violence and drug abuse.And corporate greed in the UK was behind the Norman conquest, every fratricide, patricide and matricide in British political history ever since and before that,It formed the basis of the gun-running, sugar-planting, slave-owning, pirate funded British Empire. And hasn't changed one iota in one hour, of one day, of any year since.That is part of human nature and it's overwhelming NEED for good government. But even with the best government, you would still have trouble. Why do you think King Solomon was thought to be so wise?It was because he was a good judge. In an era when people needed good judges. And nothing about the need has ever changed.But what about the broadcast news?Once it was gossip:The king did this; the enemy did that.Today it is no different.Is it?

  2. You can't know the truth without conflict. Your own interests are involved from the moment you choose a newspaper.

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