Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Media Circus

I think I'm going to have to start getting my news directly from the AP wire and the Christian Science Monitor or else read 5 newspapers a day. To be fair, I can count on one hand how many times I've watched CNN unless it's a Christiane Amanpour special since 1999 and I haven't watched MSNBC since 2004. There for a while I got my news from Stephen Colbert and John Stewart, but then their shows ceased to entertain me. I loved watching Meet the Press on Sunday mornings before Tim Russert died. And I used to enjoy watching Chris Matthews mix it up. We're pretty much a Fox News household as my husband is a FNC junkie. I sometimes sneak on other networks just to make sure I'm not missing a more "balanced" approach to news. Not to worry, I'm not.

I pretty much watch Bill O'Reilly, check the Yahoo News headlines, and read the local Sunday paper these days. In an attempt to be even handed in my commentary here, O'Reilly likes to mix it up and is a tad sensational at least once a night. He's got a couple of crusades going on for sure. But I find him entertaining and I find we agree about alot of things. Since it feels like anyone and everyone associated with the press/media in general is out to tear down anyone that has an opinion that is centrist or even remotely right of center, I figure I'm probably getting an even dose of my news with FNC headlines. At least no one is trying to make me feel like an uneducated heel that just crawled out from under some rock in the southern corner of middle America. I do have a master's degree. It's not like I don't know how to evaluate a news article or report for its value and information.

According to "un-conservative" networks all across the airwaves (or fiber optic cables) any agreement I might find with a more conservative outlook has been described as hot-headed righteous indignation, right-wing radical conservatism, a merging of right-wingers and Christian Conservatives into a White Pride movement and most recently (and my personal favorite) racist tea-bagging redneck.

So, what do I do? Protesting was once lauded and applauded (but that was back when we wanted equal rights and moms to get rid of guns and cheap gasoline). Apparently these days protesting government decisions is wrong and immoral behavior. So that's out. And somehow believing that marriage is between a man and a woman makes pretty young women giving nervous 30 second answers to difficult questions on the fly while on national television, gay bashing, holy rolling dumb blondes. So I'm thinking tv journalism, protest rallies, and beauty pageants are not viable options for me. I've missed the age cutoff for beauty pageants, off the cuff remarks consistently get me into trouble, and I don't believe I engage in wrong, or immoral behavior. Bummer.

So what do I do? Well, simply put, I turn off my tv. I live my life. I do my best to avoid gut-reactions without sampling the evidence first and I make no apologies for my personal convictions. Whether or not I choose to make those positions known is my business. I usually try to choose my audience carefully. Today's post might be an exception. I'd be lying if I said the negative comments that will inevitably emerge won't bother me. Generally, I think there is no need to piss people off unnecessarily. I prefer getting along with people.

I truly don't find myself that conservative of a person, but our country's mouthpieces on all points of the spectrum have a way of shoe-horning us into "positions" that aren't quite accurate. How we got to this point is beyond me. I do know I am confused and frustrated and flabbergasted at what makes the news and why. I don't think it's going to get better. The world is one big ball of gray; rarely is it black and white. Using hot-button sound bites and fanning the flames of polarization to prey on the short attention spans of Americans who tune in for a few minutes a night is not the answer. These tactics deprive our citizens of real information. It also says that viewers are neither smart enough, important enough, or worthy enough to engage in solid debate about what our country stands for. I find this sad on multiple levels. I could go on. But enough is enough. Gotta go, reading five different newspapers is going to take a while.

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