Thursday, August 02, 2007

Detecting "Spin"

It really gets on my nerves to listen to talk radio... or tv news... sometimes read the newspaper... yet despite that, I turned on the conservative news radio station while driving around town this afternoon, and the voice was blabbering about providing free health care for children and why it's such a bad idea. He quoted something from CNN about how biased they are, wanting children to have access to health care when their parents can't afford health insurance, and then proceeded to explain why this is such a bad idea, and how dare a woman have a child who she can't pay for? As if, 8 years previously, she knew that she wasn't going to be able to provide health care? This from a man who hates abortion and frankly doesn't care for birth control that much either. So he made a lot of nasty assumptions about one woman just to make his case against this health care bill coming out of the house. A bill that wants kids to go to doctors.

But anyway... I was listening and I start noticing things, not just from him but things I hear that always strike me as odd things to hear in a newscast. For example "slippery slope." I'm sick of hearing this phrase, every time someone acts for change, they're on a "slippery slope" towards this or that evil... it's always a slippery slope. The alliteration sounded neat the first time but after that... I'm sick of hearing this phrase, and I hear it all the time. It's such a cliche now we shouldn't write it without quotes around it! Nonetheless, when it is used, it's fairly uncreative attempt to make people think that whatever it is will make things get worse in the future... and markedly so. It's a fear-mongering attempt. So now I start to question the validity of any news report where the announcer opted to use this incredibly annoying and overused phrase.

Another thing I can't stand is when the announcer starts insisting that he's been telling you this... forever. "I told you they were going to do this..." and "I've been saying all along.." Isn't it so nice to know, and now have proof that our talking heads are not only inanely clever, they're also clairvoyant? They knew the future, see? They kept telling you and you didn't listen... and now look what's happened? So listen up now, take everything he says as Gospel truth because hey, he's on your side and he has more information than you. This is time to pull out that British cutie, "Bollocks!" Anyway, it used to annoy me to listen to Rush Limbaugh when he'd begin ranting about how right he'd always been and how he was always telling you and always right. Fact is, he's not always right. Just makes a point of milking it when things go as he predicted. Some cheap kind of prophets these guys think they are. So beware... if he has to tell you that he's been right all along... that should really should raise suspicion on everything he says. Does an honest man need to keep asserting his integrity?

Another troubling thing to hear is, "Nobody else is going to tell you this." What I want to know is, why isn't anybody else going to tell me this? My first reaction is, because it's a lie!! But the announcer insisted that he has all the facts for his listeners, and nobody else is going to explain the truth of the matter. So they have to listen to him, and not question any of his information, while they should totally disregard everyone else. Is this legislation shrouded in secrecy, is that why nobody else will tell me how evil it is to provide health care for poor kids? And the answer is... no! It's just that it's hard to find people who hate Nancy Pelosi so much who can articulate themselves well enough to get on the air.

So nobody is going to tell you the truth, except for your announcer; but that's okay because he's always right. And he has to tell you because you must act in opposition to whatever (like health care for poor kids) or else we'll all be on a "slippery slope" towards some unimaginable evil like... health care for everyone.

When can people go back to reporting the news? Tell me what happened, who did what, what the possible outcomes are. That's what I want to hear. Not a self-validation by the announcer, not his prophecy success rate, not one person's opinion or irrational fear. (What is so scary about health care for poor kids??)

This really isn't about the legislation, for me, it's just that whether the issue is health care for poor kids (saying it that way should give away my opinion on this issue but there's more to it than that and I'll admit plainly I know next to nothing about the proposal), or if it's pulling troops out of Iraq or allowing Qur'ans in courtrooms, gay marriage, or ethanol fuel... I'm fed up with hearing the same cliches, the same lines, the same boring storybook format and learning absolutely nothing about the issue at hand. When can we get announcers who report the news instead of throwing it in a blender, adding a few healthy doses of Ego and Fear only to chuck the resulting garbage out at their listeners?

1 comment:

Leena said...

Damn, this is the best post I've seen on any blog in a long time. :-)