Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Some For It, Some Against It




Roger Ailes was brilliant when he invented the catchphrase "Fair and Balanced" for GOP TV. The network recently dropped it after it had served its purpose, both in promoting the network and in convincing much of the media that presenting a "fair and balanced" story eliminates the need to be accurate and thorough.

Politico reports

Nearly half of voters, 46 percent, believe the news media fabricate news stories about President Donald Trump and his administration, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Just 37 percent of voters think the media do not fabricate stories, the poll shows, while the remaining 17 percent are undecided.


More than three-quarters of Republican voters, 76 percent, think the news media invent stories about Trump and his administration, compared with only 11 percent who don’t think so. Among Democrats, one-in-five think the media make up stories, but a 65 percent majority think they do not. Forty-four percent of independent voters think the media make up stories about Trump, and 31 percent think they do not.


Wait, ye denizens of planet Earth, before accusing three-quarters of Republican voters of being "crazy" or "idiots" or "ignorant." Wait, because it arguably gets worse.  Shepard continues

But voters diverge from the president on whether the federal government should be able to punish news organizations that he believes make up stories about him. Trump last week suggested the government could revoke NBC’s broadcast licenses.

Only 28 percent think the government should have the power to revoke broadcast licenses of major news organizations that it says are fabricating news stories about a president or the administration, while 51 percent think the government should not be able to do that. Another 21 percent are undecided.


Voters are split along party lines on this question, too. More than two-thirds of Democrats, 68 percent, think the federal government should not have the power to revoke broadcast licenses of those organizations. But more Republicans, 46 percent, think the government should have that power than the third of GOP voters who don’t think so.


Shepard gently notes "only 28 percent think the government should have the power to revoke broadcast licenses of major news organizations that it says are fabricating news stories abut a president or the administration."

Only 28 percent? The journalist's diplomacy and kindness are impressive- but not admirable- as he wrote "only 28 percent," including 46 percent of Republicans "think the government should have that power."

That certainly is balanced, and it's arguably fair. But it's missing the larger picture.

The framers made as the first of the two parts of the First Amendment to the Constitution "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."

More than one-quarter of voters- and nearly half of Republicans- believe Congress should consider a law abridging freedom of the press. And only a bare majority- 51 percent of the electorate- believes Congress should not have the power to render null and void First Amendment protections of freedom of the press.

Shepard did not explain that.  He did not observe that Americans are uneasy with the idea that there is a right to criticize this President. He did not notice that voters appear uncomfortable with the First Amendment.  He did not even mention the amendment, which in the minds of roughly half (46%) of Republicans should be in serious jeopardy.

These are remarkable numbers, or should be so considered. And they are especially dangerous numbers when pertaining to the party which controls the federal and most state governments and whose elected officials pander to voters in primaries rather than in general elections. Such journalism may be "fair and balanced," but is dedicated to avoid revealing the hard, discomfiting truth about our fellow citizens.








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