Orwell – Biased Writing And Journalism

OrwellOnPartisanWriting

This above quote is from George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia”.  I wish the journalists of our age had Orwell’s integrity and humility.

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CNN is not exactly “fake news”, but…

cnnignoringalleppogasattack

When Trump and some of his supporters call media outlets like CNN “fake news”, establishmentarians love to snort in derision.  “Oh you Trump supporters.  You just hate facts.”  Neither Trump nor his supporters are known for their eloquence, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

The civil war in Syria has been raging since 2010, and it is absolutely crucial for us to understand it.  ISIS has emerged out of the civil war, and as I write this, a new group is emerging called Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, which includes the former Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra Front.  As this group seems to have some of the characteristics of Al Qaeda, and some of ISIS, it is a group that Americans should seriously be warned about.  Instead, CNN would rather devote most of their time to mocking Trump’s gaffs, or something as trivial as eating fried chicken with a knife and fork, and defending their wounded pride (ya know, from the Clinton loss despite expert predictions to the contrary) with more elitist arrogance.

CNN isn’t fake news because of fake facts.  It’s more an issue of relevance.  All mainstream media has done a poor job of informing the American public of what is going on in Syria.  As I’ve explained many times before, if Americans knew about these dangerous terrorist groups, and the fact that the Assad regime, for all their faults, are fighting AGAINST these terrorist groups, we wouldn’t even be considering regime change in Syria.  The only thing we’d be debating at this point is whether to help Assad, or just stay out of the way and let him take care of it.

But, ya know, Trump just says all those crazy things, and we just gotta report that.  And as a southerner, I take deep offense to Trump butchering that fried chicken with a knife and fork.  Pick it up with your hands, foo!

As Trump would say,

Sad!

Now, let me do CNN’s job for them.  The above briefly mentioned gas attack.  We aren’t yet sure who did it.  It may have been the Assad regime, as air craft were likely required.  But it very well could have been a rival terrorist group.  The area that was attacked is firmly held by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.  So, the attack was on an area held by an Al Qaeda linked group, though this group has no present official ties to Al Qaeda.  It’s just another example of the kind of ruthless tactics that are used in this ongoing, brutal civil war.  If it was indeed by the Assad regime, we should remember that it was directed at a very dangerous terrorist group that is clearly hostile to the US.  But it should also be noted that the attack showed no regard for civilian lives.

There, CNN!  That’s how it’s done!

Re: Screw “Fair and Balanced”? I don’t think so!

“How can we expect unbiased journalism when just deciding which news is worth covering is inherently biased?” – See more at: http://rare.us/story/screw-fair-and-balanced-give-me-biased-news-any-day/#sthash.q5zvKfBz.dpuf

I just read an article from Rare that made some solid points about biases in journalism, but drew a hasty conclusion I’d like to refute.  Bonnie Kristian (the author) is correct that even if journalists give “just the facts”, that doesn’t stop them from cherry-picking the facts.  Furthermore, even when they are trying to be objective, they are human.  They can try to be balanced, try to put things in context, and try to listen to all sides; but they will have a slant inevitably.  (As a college professor of political science, I can relate.)  So essentially, I agree completely with this article’s criticisms of objective journalism (AKA “Fair and Balanced”).

However, due to the inherent imperfection of objective journalism, the author Bonnie Kristian draws the conclusion that we should stop even trying.  I think the title says it all.  So essentially, because this isn’t perfect, we should tear it down.  My car recently had a dead battery.  I didn’t take it to the scrap yard.  I just replaced the battery.

For objective journalism, as with objective teaching, there’s a clear difference between journalists who try their best to be objective, and those who aren’t even trying.  Anderson Cooper has no problem calling out Republicans, Democrats, and whoever else when he catches them either lying or spinning half-truths  (Example posted below.)  Anderson Cooper is a human being, and certainly has issues that matter to him.  However, he’s perfectly capable of being objective.  Is he perfectly, 100% objective, 100% of the time?  Doubtful.  But if he’s objective 99% of the time, should he lose all credibility over that 1%?  There’s a big difference between that, and say, Sean Hannity, who is very clever at presenting factoids in ways that are purposefully misleading.  I’ve heard Sean Hannity claim that nearly half of Americans are paying “no taxes at all”, and then in the same segment, criticize the “tax” on cell phones.  The half he’s referring to are those Americans who don’t make enough money to fit into even the lowest tax bracket, so they aren’t paying INCOME TAXES.  They are, however, paying plenty of other taxes, including the tax on cell phones.  Does that stop halftruth Hannity?  Of course not.

I should hope that this Rare author Bonnie Kristian would not be so absurd as to claim that Hannity is on the same level as Cooper.  But if I follow his logic, I would draw that absurd conclusion.  None of them can be entirely objective, so I guess we should just let them all be openly biased?  No, I don’t give up on something just because it isn’t perfect.  Having an ongoing series of “infowars” between manipulative, shameless pundits is not going to help us draw better conclusions.  Kristian does make a compelling argument that journalists should be watchdogs who catch wrong doing and “shame the devil”.  Agreed.  But Kristian is implying that this is somehow in contrast to objective journalism.  Objective does not mean necessarily taking the middle of the road position every time.  I’m a centrist, and even I get that.

Objectivity is an imperfect, ongoing process when we’re searching for the truth.  We should always listen to reasonable, even if radical positions from different sides.  But those partisan pundits who aren’t even trying to be fair?  Don’t even listen to them.  Some might think that if they listen to “both sides”, they will get a better, more balanced perspective.  You aren’t getting any smarter by listening to both sides of stupid.

 

Anderson Cooper calling out Moveon.org for half-truth regarding “war on women”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFRNXBADEl0

Cooper calling out Debbie Wasserman Shultz for misrepresenting Romney’s position on abortion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k-KuYJraEg