No, Mr. Godburn, They Are Not

Mark R. Godburn, an antiquarian bookseller in North Canaan, CT, wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the December 8, 2013 New York Times, along with responses from several readers.  Mr. Godburn cautions us that, “Relying on one source, or even on several sources with the same bias, will leave you with only part of the story.”  He seems to be saying that we need to consider both (perhaps all) views in order to see the full landscape.  Fair enough.

“That’s why the much maligned right-wing media is just as important as the so-called mainstream press,” he tells us.   He then launches into a series of Fox vs. MSNBC, right vs. left comparisons that leave me – let me say this so that it is suitable for more sensitive readers – waving my arms in the air and screaming, “What the BLEEP are you talking about?!!”

First correction: MSNBC is anything but the mainstream media.  Look to ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS for that in television.

Next, Mr. Godburn looks at the IRS tax exempt and Benghazi stories.  He reports accurately that Fox obsessed on these, looking for smoking guns.  There weren’t any.  Indeed, the real story was that the IRS was actually doing its job of ensuring that we don’t give tax exempt status to organizations that do not meet their criteria for it.  He further reports that the, “.  .  .  mainstream press was determined to take the Obama administration’s word for it that it did nothing wrong in either case.”  Really?  In all the reading, watching and listening I did I didn’t hear such a thing from anyone in the center or on the left.  I did hear comments that we should wait until the evidence is in before making a judgment.  Come to think of it, that’s a very “fair and balanced” approach.  It was absent from the coverage on Fox.

Mr. Godburn begins to close his argument by letting us know that, “.  .  .  not every story or point of view [should] receive equal weight, but that every valid position [should] receive equal respect.”  Agreed.  “Thus the pro-life position should be treated with the same validity as pro-choice;”  Okay there.  And, “.  .  .  small-government conservatives with the same respect as tax-and-spend liberals  .  .  .”

Whoa there, cowboy.  Did you say “small-government conservatives”?  Like our last three conservative Republican presidents, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush?  The guys who, each in his turn, both grossly expanded government and ran up the biggest debt in world history?

It appears that Mr. Godburn’s thinking and certainly his vocabulary have been polluted by right-wing propaganda, rather than steered by the facts, and it shows in his use of the label “tax-and-spend liberals.”  That is a term favored by Ronald Reagan to demonize opponents on the left, even as he raised taxes and spent the US into enormous debt.  Somehow those facts never make it into the discussion on Fox.

And that’s the thing: the facts.  Mr. Godburn is right, that there is room for right, left and center positions.  There is a valid and important discussion to be had, for example, about differing views on Obamacare.  But the right continually pollutes any discussion with lies, false innuendo and propaganda labeling.  We simply can’t have Chuck Grassley, Sarah Palin and the rest telling us that, “They’re gonna pull the plug on Granny” and also have a meaningful exchange of reality-based ideas. There are not and never were “death panels,” even though Fox News continues to use that term.

We cannot evaluate President Obama’s job performance in the presence of righties obsessing on “birther” idiocy.

We cannot have a reasonable conversation about women’s health in the presence of Rush Limbaugh’s ongoing, filthy and dishonest rant about Sondra Fluke, nor can we discuss the same issue in Congress when not a single woman is called to testify before a Darryl Issa (Republican) controlled House committee.

We cannot have meaningful dialogue or even maintain our democracy when Fox and its extremist equivalents elsewhere perform their googly-eyed and hyperbolic demand that we constrict voting rights because of a baseless and fraudulent claim of voting rights abuse.

There is plenty of room to disagree with views and positions espoused by hosts on MSNBC; however, I have yet to hear anyone there spew lies.  And that’s the difference that applies to Mr. Godburn’s letter to the editor.

So, Mr. Godburn, don’t compare Fox News and its equivalents in the various media with anyone else.  They don’t even represent conservative views.  They simply lie.  And distort.  And obsess.  And manipulate.

Clearly, you think that Fox News and MSNBC are equivalents.  No, Mr. Godburn, they are not.

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Ed. note:  There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better.  It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better.  That is the reason for these posts.  To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.  Please help by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
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2 Responses to No, Mr. Godburn, They Are Not
  1. Phyllis Goldman Reply

    I think the network media is really the voice of the Conservative point of view, certainly when it comes to Obamacare. They continually hawk stories of people’s difficulties getting into the program while MSNBC covers stories of success.
    As far as finding a far left media voice to “balance” Fox News, there is none that I know of. The far left has disappeared from the scene.

  2. Sharon Sanders Reply

    Fox News (non-news) has taken liberty with the truth–and that is just fine with Murdoch and Ailes. They would love to impeach Obama over Benghazi just as they did Clinton with Lewinsky, but by repeating lies over and over again doesn’t make them true.

    MSNBC tells the truth, but they also omit discussions of Citizens Unived -v- FEC, McCutcheon -v- FEC, the Trans Pacific Partnership and Trans Atlantic Partnership. So they are guilty also of not being reporters of what’s happening. These issues will have devastating negative consequences for Americans, but no one knows about them. So omission is sometimes almost as bad as inciting fear based on lies. The MSNBC reporters talk about these issues when on progressive radio, but generally avoid them for the larger audiences at night.

    We are so manipulated by national media and the public buys into it. Benghazi is a non-issue–not that it isn’t important that our ambassador and others died, but while the right-wing talks about it incessantly as an impeachable offense, the wimps of Democrats never mention the alleged crimes against humanity and lies to the American public by the Cheney/Bush/Rumsfeld dictatorship where thousands of young Americans died for oil and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were murdered as a result of our quest to dominate the world.

    Here’s a much smaller comparison, but, to me, indicates what we “allow” to be talked and lied about on our corrupt media, particularly Fox. The war on Christmas–whatever that means–that comes up every year. But has anyone been talking about the plutocrats’ war on Thanksgiving, the great commercialization of this holiday. I can’t imagine as a kid ever hearing anyone talk about working and shopping on Thanksgiving. This was a very special holiday. But now, as of this year, we were encouraged to buy the junk that Macy’s, Target, Walmart sells to us, meaning workers also couldn’t be home with their families or they risked being fired. Costco workers were harassed for keeping their stores closed. I call that a war on Thanksgiving.

    And my last comment, which actually drives me insane. Obama is a socialist, a communist (while he’s actually a corporatist), but those who listen to Fox make no connection to the fact that a communist country literally owns us and produces, along with other communist countries, the shoddy products we buy. Imagine the horror, Obama shook hands with Castro’s brother at Mandela’s funeral. And let me add in Mandela himself: he’s being vilified, demonized by the right-wing as a horrible human being who actually talked to Castro, Arafat, and others fighting for the rights of their people. Are communists any better or any worse than those on the right acting like fascists in our country today–as exampled by multinationals who operate in Central and South America, Africa, everywhere, murdering workers and union activists fighting for human rights while our multinationals steal their natural resources. Left, right–either extreme is bad. Our leaders, our country, just hates the left more than the right (except when it comes to making money using their cheap labor). To me, these multinationals, non-tax-paying corporations and individual billionaires, are traitors to the country that gave them the opportunities to become that wealthy at the expense of the workers.