Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Response to Medved's Stance on talking about Protestors

A Response to Medved's Stance on talking about Protestors

Driving today, I caught the early segment of Michael Medved's radio show. I tend to listen to some conservative talk radio because I like to understand the other side of the aisle, and because I live in Texas, there is a lot of it. As I was listening, he started his segment blaming "liberals" as trying to group anyone opposed to the Obama health care plan as one of three things: 1) Racists or Nazis; 2) Extremists like birthers, gun tooters, etc.; or 3) Bought by corporations in opposition to health care changes. While it is clearly an attempt to make people feel better about their opposition, it really places an unrealistic standard on reporting that even Medved doesn't adhere to: Insisting upon qualifiers of every story that border on the legalese of absurdity.

There is no denying the truth: Some of the most visible and vocal people that these pundits have spurred on to actions ARE making racial and Nazi references (as evidenced by their own actions including a swastica on a sign); some of these people ARE bringing guns and knives to events like the President's; some of these people ARE the very same people who are the birthers shouting at even Republican Town Hall Meetings about the President not being an American citizen; and some of these people ARE also organized and paid by corporations to try to intimidate the Democrats, just as Dick Morris has said they should if they want to stop health care reform. Dick's comment on Fox was that they should "terrorize" the Democrats. So when your pundits are pushing for and spurring on these actions, the cries that the reporting brush is too broad is really the fault of your own pundits more than reporters.

If you are unsure of the punditry going on, listen to Rush, listen to Hannity, look up Sarah "Quitter" Palin's "death panel" comments before she calls for "civility", look up Dick Morris' suggestions that Democrats be "terrorized", and several other Congresspeople's comments on the right to attempt to incite this. Then ask yourself, if you are anywhere but the right, how would you view the antics going on? Any rational answer would assume that this would be what Murray Edelman referred to as the "Political Spectacle", something that is manufactured to create attention and try to shape perception. It isn't something unique to the right at all, but what we are seeing surely looks that way, especially when the right is going on the air with what sounds like pre-prepared talking points that sound identical from show to show within hours of the first town hall disruption.

What Medved seems to want is something that no pundit on the right, including himself, would do: create a legalese section in every report that borders on the absurd. It would sound something like this:

"While this action was perpetrated by these people, it should in no way be understood to apply to all other opposition to this bill, which should be considered to be rational people with a valid point that should be heard."

Or something similar. Imagine the stories in the Medved world:

"A caucasion male was seen running down the street after robbing a bank. It should be noted that this individual does not represent all white men with his actions, nor do all white men rob banks, nor do all white men run, nor are all white men seen on the street. The sentence starting this paragraph should not be viewed in a racial context in any way other than to simply describe the individual man running down the street."

Could anyone imagine reporting in that world? And could anyone find that reporting currently on the right or even on Medved's show? Of course not, though Medved would probably insist he wasn't a reporter, just someone who has an opinion, and as such, does not need to qualify his statements in the same way.

There are people who do oppose the President's health care plan as socialist or big government spending. Ironically, many of them are also on Social Security and Medicare. If they reject socialist, big government spending, and deficits, maybe they should opt out of Social Security and Medicare. I doubt they will though.

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