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 (R-CA) 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.
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 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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