What’s wrong with reporting facts?

Published 4:26pm Friday, July 29, 2011

Last week I read an opinion article in the Washington Post so full of errors regarding the United States Budget deficit that it made the entire article ludicrous.
I can live with approximations and simplifications of facts, but distortion and lies are another thing altogether. It is a sad state of affairs when no one checks facts any longer.
I try to ensure that I use “original” data and information as opposed to relying on “filtered” information that has been compromised by someone else’s interpretation of the raw information.
As a matter of fact, when I do the research I find that, to my surprise, I change my opinion more often than not because the facts and data that I’ve been fed through traditional media has been misrepresented.
I like to rely upon sources such as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The CBO is one of the most scrutinized agencies that has ever existed, but I find the structure of the data to be complicated and confusing.
But if you spend enough time with it and can do basic math, the information you’re looking for can be found. It could be that the data is structured the way it is so that corrupt politicians and lobbyists can make statements that are difficult to check.
I don’t know. But I do know that I haven’t seen an honest assessment of our economic condition, government expenditures and national debt in quite some time because no one seems to be concerned with the facts; facts that are clearly available through the CBO web site.
In the past, I have also used information that was presented as fact from the “Wall Street Journal” (Journal). I’ve always considered the “Journal” to be a factual publication and have not been concerned about using the information I find there.
After watching the opinion section of the “Journal” become more and more unbalanced over the last few years, combined with the latest Murdoch revelations, it has become increasingly clear that it makes everything they do suspect. This is sad, because I used to think that in spite of the political leanings of the opinion section, that at least the reporting and research were balanced with facts and comprehensive information – apparently not.
I guess you sell more papers with hype, innuendo and distortion that you can with straight-up reporting. It also seems that you sell more papers printing “populist” opinion, lies and political rhetoric than you do with factual articles on current issues.
My point is that way too often the journalistic world reports speculations and propaganda as fact.   Then they begin quoting each other. Smart people know this and collude to deceive journalists and the people. The outcome is always bad for the people and society.
We even have 24-hour news outlets and talk shows that say upfront that their goal is to present a biased political view of events. So, if your goal is to distort and misrepresent the facts, what part of your story am I supposed to believe?
Answer: None of it.
So why do these news show “talkers” have so many dedicated followers? They present nice, neat little arguments to solve complex societal challenges by relying on “base ideological” theories.
History tells us they don’t work, but they keep at it.
If you disagree with them, they demonize you in much the same way the “Senator McCarthy” did in his very destructive crusade in the 50s against the “communist scourge.” And now we have the Rupert Murdoch example of a motivated “right wing” crusader dominating the major news outlets in an effort to eliminate “balanced” news (e.g., The Wall Street Journal).
My point is that “we the people” need to be more discerning. We can no longer trust “professional journalists” and the owners of news outlets to be independent thinkers and conduct a reasonable level of research.
They now let their own political leanings corrupt their news and views. First it was the “liberal” media and now it’s the “right wing” media.
Personally, I’d like to see a “thinking media” trend in this country that honestly tried balanced reporting.
Of course, they’d have to put up with the “Right Wing” calling them liberal and the “Left Wing” calling them “right wingers.”
Unfortunately, good journalism is not very profitable, I guess.

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