Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Selective journalism & the effect on public opinion

On Sunday morning I watched MSNBC from Alison Stewart all the way through Contessa Brewer. I think I spent about 8 full hours watching MSNBC, I'm not certain because the whole morning & early afternoon blurred into about an hour of broadcast time.

This is because MSNBC reported one story, with 2 or 3 other stories briefly mentioned at random intervals before going back to the one story being talked about. I can barely recall what other topics were discussed that day because The so-called "scandal" set into motion by former Rep. Mark Foley was being shoved down my throat every possible moment of airtime.

It's no wonder the polls that were talked about that day seem to indicate that the public is not happy with Republicans, that the public seems to feel that Democrats are now better on moral issues & defending us against terrorism, or any of the other things that these obviously biased & leading poll questions were designed to "prove". When a network spends 8 hours in one day (and repeats this propaganda reporting over actual news reporting every day) pushing an agenda... people will eventually start to wonder if it's the truth - even if there's an obvious bias in the "reporting". (It's like the saying goes, "If you say a lie often enough, and loud enough... people will eventually believe it". That's why the truth is said to be subjective, because a "truth" is only something you can get a person to believe - whereas a "fact" is based on reality, not feelings or beliefs.)

There was an obvious liberal bias in the reporting of that day's "news". One example is how the alleged accusations of a former page (an anonymous source at that, something that calls into question the believability of the alleged information & should have caused both MSNBC & the L.A. newspaper to NOT report what is basically unsubstantiated rumor) were being repeated over & over - BUT one tidbit of information that wasn't damaging to Foley & the Republicans was only mentioned ONCE.

I am referring to the bit of info where the anonymous former page said that Rep. Foley told him that he would NEVER engage in inappropriate behavior with someone who is underage, because of it being a crime.

Why wasn't this bit of info repeated over & over with all of the assumptions & other comments that amount to mere conjecture?

Is it because this comment gives the public a more accurate picture of former Rep. Foley - one that isn't a pedophile or sexual predator, but simply a gay man engaging in gay sex with another consenting adult?

If a benign picture of Foley is reported, then the public won't believe all of the liberally-biased propaganda that MSNBC reports to them in the attempt to sway public opinion. A Foley who is engaging in mutually consensual (non-illegal) gay sex doesn't serve to demonize the Representative in specific - which means the general implication of the Republicans as a whole being morally deficient doesn't work to a rationally thinking person.

And that isn't something that the liberally-biased MSNBC can sell, so it mentioned it one time. Most likely some producer either realized the implication of the comment, or was told about it from someone else... and the decision to "forget" to keep reporting this piece of information was made.

Another example of selective reporting is when Contessa Brewer had opposing guests on air to debate the topic. The usual liberal bias didn't remain unnoticed by the conservative guest. He was either the first to notice, or the first to be brave enough to call Contessa & MSNBC on the biasness because I haven't seen anyone say on air what he did.

Contessa cut the man off when he tried to speak on topic about how the Democrats also have moral scandals. Later, when the liberal guest went WAY off topic, Contessa allowed him to go on - because his comments either bashed Republicans or pointed out their flaws.

When the conservative guest tried to bring equality & fair play into the debate, he was ridiculed by his liberal opponent & censured by Contessa.

The liberal guest was rude & unprofessional. He insulted the conservative guest with many ad hominem attacks such as purposefully mispronouncing his name in a way that was insulting. This was one of many immature comments that Contessa allowed him to hurl at the conservative guest. Neither Contessa nor the producer of the news working at the time didn't even stop the liberal guest when he literally said "SHUT UP" to his conservative counterpart. How is this fair & unbiased, let alone professional by MSNBC?

Two things that MSNBC ignores in their biased reporting are these subjects NOT seen on any MSNBC program:

1) If the actions of former Rep. Mark Foley in regards to the Congressional pages was so obvious that his fellow Republicans just HAD to know about it for years... why wouldn't the Democrats in the House of Representatives also know about them? Congressional Pages are people used by all of the members of the House not assigned to specific Congressmen, so the pages who came into contact with Foley would also come in contact with Democrat members of the House, as well as other Congressional Pages.

MSNBC has been reporting of the Democrats' outrage towards House Republicans who MIGHT have known about Foley's actions but didn't say anything to the general House population, let alone the American Public. This ignores the almost certain reality that at least one House Democrat also knew of Foley's inappropriate behavior.

Mark Foley was known to be a gay man, and it looks like a fellow gay Republican House member knew way back in 2000 of Foley's behavior. Are we to believe that for SIX YEARS the House Democrats were kept in the dark?

If that is true... then the House Democrats are stupid... if it's not the truth, then the Democrats are just as guilty of whatever it is that Nancy Pelosi is accusing of the House Republicans.

Why is MSNBC only reporting about Republicans being to blame, and not including House Democrats? Is it because that to report Democrats being as potentially culpable as the Republicans it prevents them from being able to paint the Republicans as having moral deficiencies while Democrats are morally superior?

And why aren't the polls asking the public whether they look poorly at the Democrats for either: a) being too stupid/gullable for not knowing sooner, or b) whether Democrats MUST have known and kept quiet - making them just as guilty as Republicans?

2)Why is it not relevant to bring up incidents when a Democrat has engaged in behavior that is equally inappropriate ... if not worse?

MSNBC is allowing their liberal guests to comment about how the Republicans are supposedly failing to accurately represent the "moral values" they claimed to have when they took control of Congress so many years ago... while preventing any mention of how the Democrats repeatedly show that they are just as guilty, if not more so.

Why is it ok to talk ad nauseum of what people like Delay, Abramoff, Cunningham, and other Republicans/conservatives... but it not ok to also mention Democrats who have committed actions of low moral character?

Foley is allowed to be the poster boy for all Republicans as an example of their moral failures, and this is being given as reason to give power back to Democrats.

If you believe Democrats, they wouldn't have acted as negligently as they claim Republicans acted in regard to Foley's actions & an alleged cover-up.

HOWEVER, when a Democrat in Congress was actually having sexual relations with underage Congressional pages/interns... he wasn't told to resign by his fellow Democrats - he was allowed to remain in his elected office & was REELECTED 5 more times!!!

When a Democrat was actually running a prostitution ring out of his residence was he forced to resign by his fellow Democrats? NO, he was allowed to remain in office - and is still there to this day!!!

And when a Democrat was President and engaged in adulterous sexual behavior with an intern IN THE OVAL OFFICE AND WHILE "ON THE CLOCK" FOR THE AMERICAN PUBLIC did his fellow Democrats in Congress force him from office? Of course not, they did everything possible to keep a sexual predator in office!!!

This is just three examples of Democrats allowing Democrats to engage immorally reprehensible behavior, just so they could keep the power of having the offending Democrat in office... while now saying that it's a totally different situation now that the offender is a Republican.

The proper way to describe this behavior by Democrats is as them having a Double Standard. And when someone acts like that, they are a HYPOCRITE!!!

When Bill Clinton was committing adultery with Monica Lewinsky while he was supposed to be conducting the business of the American People his fellow Democrats said it was a "private" matter, and none of our business... but now that it's a Republican being accused, it's not a "private" matter at all and it's very much our business.

How is it any different when Foley allegedly was engaging in sexual messaging with a Congressional Page (whether former or present) and when Clinton was receiving oral sex from an intern while he was making phone calls (with government officials, whether they be U.S. or foreign) as he was conducting official business?

And when recent reports of Clinton potentially in a conversation with a married woman that was described as being sexual in nature... why is that not ok to talk about in response to how Foley & Republicans being the only ones guilty of moral transgressions? Why is the incident made out to be a "joke" or of no consequence, just because the husband of the woman that Clinton was talking to in a sexual way was Ashton Kutcher - host of a tv show about pranks & practical jokes?

Wouldn't it be relevant if a member of Congress was found to be in possession of $90,000 cash that was given to him as a bribe from what turned out to be an undercover agent of the government agency that was investigating the Congressman for criminal behavior when talking about morals? It probably would, if the Congressman in question were a Republican - but since he is a Democrat, MSNBC doesn't bother to mention this incident, or allow others to comment on him.

To allow any mention of these 4 examples of Democrats who have engaged in morally deficient behavior would negate any idea that it is only Republicans who are guilty of moral transgressions. It would also allow people to realistically judge members of Congress as individuals, and not in the general terms of a political party.

In the courtroom MSNBC & liberals would not be allowed to behave this way. In a forum where the truth, equality, and fairness are mandatory so that justice can be possible. You can't tell people about the positive qualities of someone involved with the trial without the opposition being allowed to bring up their negative qualities. If you want to assure that the negatives can't be brought into record... then you can't "open the door" to a character debate by bringing up only that which benefits you. It's a shame that MSNBC doesn't follow such principled behavior because they are doing the public a great disservice.

News isn't supposed to have an opinion, it's supposed to be neutral & just report the facts. It's hypocritical & ironic that MSNBC (Keith Olbermann especially) likes to point at FOX News for being biased towards the conservative viewpoint... when MSNBC is obviously just as guilty of biasness, only towards the liberal viewpoint. Dan Rather was disgraced & eventually booted from his position as news anchor at CBS when his liberal bias became public.

It was correct that he be removed from that position since he couldn't appear to be neutral when reporting the news, and MSNBC (and FOX) should follow such a professional benchmark with all of their news reporters who appear on air. To allow a biased opinion (of either viewpoint) is not professional, it is engaging in the spreading of an agenda by means of propaganda. This should fall under the subject of political commentary that requires "equal time" from the opposing view - or be punished by the appropriate government agency as being biased speech.

Keith Olbermann tries to paint himself as a serious newsman. He wants people to think he should be considered among such noteworthy newscasters like Cronkite, that he can be trusted. Which is interesting when you consider that promotional ads for his show "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" had compared the show to Jon Stewart and his show "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" - even though Stewart's show is a comedy program making fun of the news programs rather than an actual news program. I see that as being a contradiction - you are either a respected news program or a comedy program. The people who watch Jon Stewart appreciate his take on the news, but he isn't on par with a respected newsman like Cronkite - even if he is extremely popular & many people (unfortunately) get their news from his show spoofing the news.

Keith is probably the most biased among a biased bunch. His whole "hook" is his Bush-bashing (and Republican-bashing by extension) and also by his relentless "stalking" of Bill O'Reilly with the sole purpose of bashing & slandering him. I guess Keith figures that by mentioning O'Reilly's name every chance he can... that this will result in others mentioning him - giving Olbermann a level of awareness in the public consciousness that he wouldn't normally have (and didn't earn of his own merit) thus resulting in his ratings boost. It's a "ride the bandwagon" type of boost that comes from people who have been whipped into a frenzy from all of the other propaganda being force fed to the public by MSNBC - and not a genuine boost in ratings because people actually want to watch Olbermann because he's talented, trustworthy, or likable.

It's like how the housing boom finally began to end - because enough people said that it couldn't last much longer often enough that people stopped showing confidence in the market... resulting in the predicted end of the boom. It's a self-fulfilling process that isn't a result of untainted events, but a situation where "cause & effect" is thrown into reverse.

The result of Olbermann using this tactic of bashing Bush, Republicans & the anti-O'Reilly commentary is that Keith's show has (allegedly, if you believe MSNBC as the source) doubled in the ratings race.

Keith is on air opposite of the #1 show in all of cable news, that of his nemesis, Bill O'Reilly on FOX News, so it's no wonder why he uses O'Reilly to boost his own ratings.

Recently Olbermann interviewed Bill Clinton in what MSNBC proclaimed as "The Olbermann Interview" - as if 20 years from now history will see this moment as being noteworthy. The promo ad also described Olbermann as being one of the most respected journalists of our time, or some such description equating Olbermann as a modern day Cronkite.

What the "interview" really was can only be described as the journalistic version of Olbermann performing oral sex on the former President. It's ironic that Clinton accused a member of FOX News as being a tool or a puppet of his conservative masters, when Olbermann was the epitome of being a willing accomplice to whatever message Clinton wanted to spread. There were no tough questions for Clinton from Olbermann. It could honestly be said that it couldn't have been a better example for the liberal cause - even if Michael Moore directed it while Al Franken, Bill Maher, Howard Dean, & Nancy Pelosi wrote the script!

Even though the September 11 Commission stated that the Clinton Administration shared blame for the tragedy of September 11, 2001... Olbermann didn't question the former President about it. Clinton was allowed to deny any wrongdoing while shifting blame to the current Administration. Days later Olbermann was all about blaming President Bush with accusations coming from former Clinton. Why should Keith accept Bill Clinton as a source when his claims are contradicted by the September 11 Commission?

You would think that a group made up of 5 Democrats & 5 Republicans would have be unbiased, as we have seen them to be. They are the epitome of being an objective 3rd party - yet Olbermann chose the word of a man who has been proven to be a liar, a thief, an adulterer, and possibly a traitor to his country over this impartial group.

Keith siding with Clinton over the September 11 Commission is proof of him being a tool or a puppet for his liberal masters. It also shows that he should not be on cable tv where he can sway public opinion with propaganda when he is supposed to be reporting the news in a neutral fashion. In the very least, it proves that he should be described as a journalist of integrity or high stature.

When Olbermann mentions O'Reilly, FOX News, President Bush, or Republicans in a negative light, he does so because he knows it will boost his ratings. He is pandering to the lowest common denominator, and that is sad. Keith's show is the political version of Jerry Springer, and that has nothing to do with what the news is supposed to be about.

MSNBC & Olbermann want people to believe that he (and MSNBC as well) is a journalist of high regard, that he should be put in the same category of people like Walter Cronkite. We are being told that he is someone of integrity, and that we should trust him to be neutral when he reports the news to us.

But when Olbermann (and MSNBC) allows his political views/opinions to shape how & what he reports... then the process becomes tainted - it's no longer news, but an Op Ed piece at best... it's the forwarding of an agenda through propaganda at worst.