Posted by: ritagone | June 6, 2012

“Fair and Balanced?”

I’ve about decided that there’s no way you’re going to get a “fair and balanced” viewpoint about anything, politics, social issues, or anything else.  Yes, when I say anything, I mean anything.

Take, for example, the recent media frenzy about Mitt Romney’s alleged bullying as a teenager in his posh private high school.  As I was walking on my treadmill one Saturday morning a few weeks ago, remote control in hand, I was on Fox News, the conservative cable channel. (I channel surf a lot while walking on the treadmill.  It makes the time pass more quickly.)  The talking head there was saying that the Washington Post, a once-illustrious newspaper (home to Woodward and Bernstein of Watergate fame in decades’ past), which broke the story, no longer gets several sources before releasing their information.  Instead, they go with innuendo and rumor, gossip and negative portrayal.  In this case, “someone” unearthed the fact that the alleged victim of this Romney bullying, who was now deceased and of course couldn’t speak up in defense of either himself or describe the situation first-hand, was not particularly scarred for life, which current family members verified when interviewed.  In fact, their fervent wish was that this would be left behind quickly; that it was no big deal and should be ignored.

Was this because Fox News was more pro-Romney than the other cable channels?  In other words, was even this piece of news “information” telling me about the Washington Post’s way of gathering news to be trusted as fair and unbiased?  I don’t know, because I know Fox News has no love for the Washington Post.  But it certainly was presenting a particular slant, for sure.

Then, as I continued to walk on the treadmill, I went over to CNN.  As it happened, they were interviewing a woman who was an “expert” on bullying, having written a book and also having been the victim of bullying herself as a child and teenager.  (In which case I guess many are also “experts” by definition.  They just need to write that book quickly.  E books will probably suffice.  Blogs probably will also work.)  Pardon my cynicism, but I get a little weary of the so-called “experts” interviewed who can hardly string two sentences together without their prejudices and ignorance being so apparent that it is difficult for me to watch them.  So the unearthing of the historic Romney bullying incident had put spins on bullying stories all over cable news.

In any case, this woman must have been instructed by one of the CNN producers of the spot to mention Mitt Romney’s bullying encounter as a teen as many times as she could.  I lost count at six.  Over and over again she referred back to what Romney had done, even when the conversation had definitely veered away from that particular incident to bullying in general.  Even the gal interviewing her had no interest in landing on the Romney event, but the “expert” was committed to staying there and squeezing every drop from it possible.  I expected her to make an arrest after the interview, or at least to recommend Mitt Romney be disqualified from political office and Obama just plain be re-elected then and there.

Now, here’s what I’m saying: seeing these two perspectives one right after the other made me realize very clearly that there is truly no neutrality.  I honestly despair of finding a source of information any more that is going to give me the kind of rational, sane, balanced information I’m looking for.  If you know of one, please do let me know.  In the meantime, everything around us is so bi-partisan that it’s difficult to get an honest opinion that looks at an issue fairly and squarely.

What a shame.

With the glut of “information” out there floating around, too bad most of it is really mis-information, biased or slanted or in some way tainted and unreliable, not to be trusted.  Does it make you feel a bit paranoid?  It should.

Listen to a particular politician or talking head speak.  Well, you really can’t, can you?  All you can hear or see is the sound byte or video byte presented by the media, whichever cable or news channel you happen to be watching, with whatever slant they adore.  Read a print article about something, and you no longer get an objective rendering from a reporter whose job it is to present an issue with the keen eyes of objectivity.  What you get instead is his or her own personal bias, and so you can never be sure that what you’re reading is accurate.  I find this all rather frightening, because you and I have no other source of information than what we see on television, hear on the radio, or read on the Internet or in print.  If those sources are totally biased and unreliable, then where are we are to go for facts that do not see-saw us around according to the viewpoint of the writer or presenter but rather let us think and decide for ourselves?

It gives me pause, great pause.

Any thoughts or ideas out there as to how to solve this dilemma, this massive problem?  Because I really would like to know.

And because I truly don’t have an answer.


  1. I guess, you do what you are doing – get the right slant – then the left slant and find something common in the middle.

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