Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Believing is Seeing

The problems with the journalistic enterprise are legend..esp. as a broadcast medium. The accent is upon 24 hour turnaround, and upon hyperbole and sensationalism. The old paradigm, "seeing is believing" seemed to imply some type of objective, "evidence-based" standard.....but the reality increasingly appears to suggest that the chain of causation works in the other direction, i.e. "believing is seeing"esp. in the political realm. Thus - to cite one compelling current example - in the face of unambiguous evidence (based on BLS "establishment" data) that the Bush administration's job creation record was beyond anemic (total non-farm job losses of 597,000, 681,000,and 741,000 respectively in the last three months of his administration) vs net job growth of 194,000, 232,000, and 54,000 for the three months of March, April, and May have two competing interpretations of these facts:

Republicons become studiously ahistorical and see Obama's "recovery" as an unmitigated disaster. They refuse to acknowledge ANY of the contextual lead-up to it (namely the twin Bush decisions to both enter into a prohibitively expensive elective war, and to cut taxes in both 2001 and 2003 - a phenomenon without historic precedent in this nation's history EVER). The relevance of these decisions to the current fiscal deficit should be obvious to all (especially since all major "spikes" in fiscal deficits in the country's history follow: a) the Civil War; b) World War I; and c) World War II )...

Add to this the journalistic propensity now - ESPECIALLY in the absence of any strong data-oriented, fact-gathering norms - (exacerbated by quick turn-around requirements of contemporary journalism) and you have a recipe for disaster. Given few facts, the enterprise boils down to "he said"-"she said" in which journalists seek to "balance" their reportage - not to provide a strong objective basis for them. Thus, creationist "science" is accorded a false intellectual equivalence with evolutionary theory - in the interest of balance !!! Thus, comparative analyses of health care systems (virtually all of which demonstrate the cost effectiveness of universal health care systems in leading European nations) must share the stage with Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute analyses who persist in portraying fee-for-service capitalist approaches as fine and dandy...even if $40 million go uninsured. Regrettably, this is the type of balance which will rapidly turn this country into a third rate power.

No comments:

Post a Comment