Thursday, August 5, 2010

Junk Media

Hello again, team. Sorry I've taken so long to get back to you, but I've been busy writing a for-hire novel, which I've got to get finished by the end of September -- not to mention having my computer in the shop for a week, and getting ready for DragonCon. I'd originally planned to report my adventures in the brave new world of Vaping, e-cigarettes, and hunting for designers thereof, but this came up instead. So, onward.

An old friend who lives in Wisconsin phoned and told me about the state's local hyper-Liberal Arts and Entertainment newspaper (I trust you're all familiar with the breed), which had published an article about Arizona's famous SB 1070 law. Along with the usual patronizing mooing about Little Brown People, the article made this amazing statement: "(the law) is an attempt by the white two-thirds majority to impose its will on the Latino one-third minority". The article then goes on to piously note that this is why we need a good Liberal government: to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority, and to curb the majority's excesses. Uhuh.

Now, besides the blatant anti-democratic elitism, note the stunning error of fact: "white two-thirds majority".

According to the last census, the population of Arizona is roughly 30% White (yes, a minority), 30% Indian (primarily Navaho tribes), 30% mixed White-and-Indian (which is exactly what Latinos are), 5% Black and 5% Asian. Census figures are not a state secret; you can find them easily on the Internet. These self-righteous insular Liberals simply didn't bother to look.

This certainly isn't the first incidence of the Mainstream Media displaying their righteous passions without bothering to do their homework. The more respectable magazines and newspapers, when caught in their resulting errors, will usually apologize and make corrections in a corner of the editorial page; the broadcast news programs rarely admit to their errors at all. When both the US Army and the Red Cross investigated the Abu Ghraib "torture" scandal, they discovered that those infamous photos were faked; they'd never been taken in Abu Ghraib prison at all, and photographic analysis showed that the pictures were a hoax. Yet this information hardly reached the media at all; far more attention was paid to the Army firing the commander of the prison. There was virtually no reporting of the correction, and certainly no apology.

Now why is this? Given the abundance of information available simply on the Internet, it isn't that hard to check a story out. Surely in an age of runaway lawsuits you'd think the media would be more careful about possible suits for libel. Perhaps the armies of lawyers they keep on the payroll have made them overconfident. Perhaps they keep enormous slush-funds for settling out of court. Or perhaps they have such contempt for the intelligence of their audiences that they assume the public will believe them blindly, and they'll never get caught -- at least not badly -- in their little mistakes. So is it laziness, overconfidence or just plain arrogance that makes the media so thoughtless with the facts?

In any case, they're mistaken about the gullibility of the public. Despite the media's ferocious decrying of Arizona's anti-illegal-immigration bill, a recent survey by the major polling companies showed that fully 70% of Arizona's population, and 68% of the rest of the country, are in favor of SB 1070 -- and half a dozen states are drafting similar laws of their own. Another poll showed that, of the three groups that Americans trust the least, politicians come in first, lawyers are second, and the media are third. Newspapers and magazines have wailed about dropping readership, and yet more polls show that a rapidly-growing percentage of the population get their news primarily from the Internet.

Does anybody, except the media pundits themselves, wonder why?

--Leslie <;)))><...


Aya Katz said...

Leslie, I wish the U.S. government in general, and Census Bureau in particular, would stay out of the race game. They should be color blind and count individuals, not races. There's no such thing as "white", "black" or any other color when it comes to people, anyway, except in the eye of the beholder.

I think that accusations of racism by racists would be better countered with race neutral responses. For instance, what percentage of Americans citizens in Arizona, regardless of race, want illegal aliens to leave? What percentage of Arizona residents are illegal aliens? That's all we really need to know.

ravenclaw-eric said...

The news media trying to shape events by how they report things is nothing at all new. During the Clinton impeachment, NBC deliberately sat on the Juanita Broadderick interview in which she plausibly accused Clinton of having raped her in Arkansas until after Bubba was safely out of danger from the mean ol' Republicans. And, going back farther, if "Watergate" had happened under the Kennedys, the media would have shrugged, said "Boys will be boys!" and not made a huge issue of it...that sort of shenanigans was SOP in DC at that time and for a long time previous.

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, Aya! Yes indeed, the Census Bureau has no business asking Americans anything more than "how many adult citizens live here" -- and that's exactly all the information I've ever given them.

Nonetheless, the Census Bureau for a very long time been collecting data on race, religion, what party you voted for and how many toilets you have in your residence. (No, I'm not kidding!) As long as the information is there, anybody -- not just the govt. -- has the right to use it. If that information shows something other than what the govt. wants, well, tough noogies; if they didn't want the info used, they shouldn't have collected it in the first place.

It's understandably hard to get exact figures on how many Illegals we have in the state right now, especially since the ACLU, if you please, managed to get an injunction slammed on the state police to keep them from keeping track of the race or legitimacy of convicted criminals. The result is that we just plain don't know how many Illegals are in the state right now.

What we do know is that 70% of Arizonans want the Illegals gone -- and that's a lot more than just the White residents.

Hi, Eric! Yes, the media have always shaded their reporting to fit their politics, but I'm seeing a new direction to it these days. It used to be that the media would simply not report, or at least downplay, facts they didn't like. Nowadays they lie outright, and glibly repeat each others' lies as unimpeachable sources. This strikes me as a seriously dangerous trend.

--Leslie <;)))><