Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world

1/10/2006

Elitism, Phone Poles, and a No-Spin Progessive CNN

Filed under: General,Media,Politics,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 12:02 am

From HuffPo's Jesse Kornbluth:

Would you like to know that the news program you're watching — whatever the politics of the network's owner — presents verifiable facts from respectable sources?

Would you like to watch commentary on the news by experts whose opinions don't come from the daily talking points of either political party?

Me too. That's why I'm writing this open letter to George Soros with one simple request — PLEASE BUY CNN.

If you're like me, you just about choked on your corn flakes with that last line.

Given that George Soros is an uber-liberal who donates heavily to Democratic causes and campaigns and is openly hostile to all things conservative and/or Republican, you'll pardon my doubting that in his hands CNN would be a neutral news organ.

To understand why Kornbluth thinks so, though, you need to read his article. It's the usual lefty reasoning that because the news media is owned by corporate parents and gets its revenue from other corporations, then the news is de facto and necessarily skewed to the right. This is an impressive theory considering the overwhelming majority of liberals in the news media, the constant attack reports on the right and whatever the right is supporting at the time, dour news on whatever could help Bush ("…the economy picked up in the last quarter, but…"), and that even independent studies show the media's leftward tilt.

Oh, but there's also "the most vindictive administration in our history," says Kornbluth. The network suits don't dare cross Bush & Co. lest it bring the pain by canceling parent corporate contracts or siccing the FCC on the networks. It's hard to think this a credible threat when the news media has already given plenty of cause for a vindictive White House to do its Nixonest, and yet CBS still has its broadcast license, Disney World is still operating, and "Joey" was NBC's own fault. Oh, but Kornbluth admits that "it's not the sort of charge you can ever prove" that the suits hold back on Bush and Republicans because of Executive retribution. Well, if that's the case – that you can level accusations that can't possibly be proven – then strap on your tinfoil hat and make any charge you like; they pass the Kornbluth test. Other baseless charges from Kornbluth are that the government has investigated George Soros's taxes and possibly even bugged his phones. No word on whether they've snuck Inch High Private Eye into his office.

Now put down the corn flakes because I don't want you to choke again when you read this next part:

I submit there's an audience that wants more than propaganda from cable TV. I believe many millions of viewers want real news — without spin from any side — and informed opinion that's clearly labeled. And I'd bet that audience is vastly bigger than the numbers CNN is currently attracting.

The business rationale for a progressive CNN?

That's right, there'd be absolutely no spin from any side at a "progressive" CNN. I guess he means there'd be no spin from either the extreme left or the right-leaning left. The reporting would be straight down the middle of the liberal political spectrum.

Kornbluth thinks a "progressive" CNN would be a straight-shooting news network because he dismisses the idea that there are actually two sides to an issue. The only side is his side. Don't, he implies,

Treat all issues as if there are two, equally plausible positions — even when "on the one hand this, on the other hand that" programming results in pointless blather or blatant whoring for Republican causes.

And also realize this:

What would a Soros-owned CNN be like? Not, please, a blindly "liberal" CNN that gives new prominence to the tired Democratic hacks who currently appear on cable — that would be as dreary as Fox. But to the degree that the truth these days favors "progressive" positions — the existence of global warming, the primacy of hard science, support for education and the arts, decent conditions for workers and universal but cost-conscious health-care — yeah, let's get that on.

I'm at a loss to understand how truth "favors" anything and that it’s only doing so "these days" and not previously. I can only presume that progressive positions must have sent truth a gift basket last month and so it now favors them over heartless conservative positions that sent nary a Christmas card. He's using loose, and inappropriate language, of course. Truth is a property of beliefs (and perhaps, derivatively, positions) and favors nothing. It also doesn't temporally shift, or at least not in the respect that Kornbluth is using it.

That aside, this merely demonstrates his elitism and ignorance of differing opinions, something the left likes to do (as well as some on the right). I'm sure he would decry some conservatives saying he supports terrorists merely because he wants to bring the troops home. It's similarly flawed reasoning to assert that I don't support education merely because, say, I support school vouchers.

Kornbluth, however, has determined that truth favors his positions (let's not confuse that with people saying God favors their positions… dude, it's completely different) and so they are de facto right, even when others say they're not or even when they're proven wrong. There are no two sides the story. There is the correct side, which is his side, and so any disagreement is simply unintelligible and should be disregarded. That's a heck of a way to run a news station.

This sort of elitist attitude can be seen elsewhere, though. Observe this piece by Mark Goldblatt in which he relates his adventures at the last MLA conference. After a speaker said she blatantly presented an anti-Iraq war curriculum in her class, he asked if she would ever consider hiring somebody who was in favor of the war or presented a curriculum that favored the war. She dodged the question, but others in the audience were happy to answer him:

An older man was the next person called on; he turned in my direction and said that he'd served on many hiring committees and that he would never hire a teacher who seemed likely to adopt a pro-war curriculum . . . for the same reason he wouldn't hire a teacher who seemed likely to espouse creationism or intelligent design. The issue isn't political, he explained. It's that the theory is simply wrong. A pro-war curriculum would, by necessity, be rooted in falsehoods and false logic. The classroom, he insisted, is a place for truth.

The next comment was also addressed to me, by a young man sitting in the back. He said that, in theory, he would not be opposed to hiring a teacher who supported the war in Iraq . . . but that situation was unlikely to come up because people who teach in the humanities are trained in critical thinking, and no one who thinks critically could support the war in Iraq.

You see, they have the truth and there is no room for disagreement. Anybody who would disagree is necessarily wrong, likely has faulty reasoning capacities, and should be instantly disregarded. Such sorry rejects certainly shouldn't be hired for positions at august academic institutions.

What's amazing is that Kornbluth and those pleasant academics have so surrounded themselves in their own echo-chamber and have so cavalierly convinced themselves of their own righteousness that they cannot fathom that they could possibly be in error on such important political issues. To entertain such a notion simply doesn't compute. While I'm sure they have torn many garments, gnashed their teeth, and wrung their hands over that Bush character who will not admit mistakes, those conservatives who beat their chests with patriotic fervor, and those odd God-believing folks who say God is on their side, they commit the same sins. They're fervently pointing at eye-specks while the telephone pole sticking out of their orbital sockets is breaking the dishes and frightening small children. They too believe that correct judgments are by default on their side and so is truth, and so they are unwilling to entertain debate on important issues.

It's elitist, it's ignorant, and it's naive. Say you're right and that what emanates from your mouth is full of truthy goodness. That's fine; opinions and beliefs worth having are worth advocating. But at least be open to the possibility that you're wrong, that your opponent is right, and certainly advocate that the two sides of an issue deserve equal time, treatment, and respect.

3 Comments »

  1. On dissmissing opposing opinion

    Dangerous Dan has a nice post on those who believe that objective truth favors their own opinions to the extent that the other side might as well not exist. Here’s a short sample: What’s amazing is that Kornbluth and those

    Trackback by Stackable Bards — 1/10/2006 @ 10:12 am

  2. Truth is a property imposed upon facts. If one’s facts are limited, necessarily, one’s ‘truth’ will be distorted.
    Kornbluth’s ‘truth’ is like a funhouse mirror. He finds the distortion that best compliments him and declares it ‘truth.

    Comment by Thomas Hazlewood — 1/14/2006 @ 12:58 pm

  3. CARNIVAL OF THE CLUELESS #29

    Okay…So? I’m late with the Carnival this week. Sue and I have the Iranian Flu – it’s led by an irrational cough, fed by a religious fever, and it feels like I have a nuke hidden in my brain. It also wants to “wipe me off …

    Trackback by Right Wing Nut House — 1/18/2006 @ 9:25 am

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