The Donkey in Sheep’s Clothing: How feigned neutrality, not bias, is killing the mainstream media

Charlie Gibson, anchor of ABC’s World News, has accomplished more this week than just embarrassing himself and his colleagues; he has foreshadowed the cause of death of the mainstream media. Gibson was asked on a radio interview in Chicago earlier this week to opine on why the media is not covering the Senate’s decision to defund ACORN. The Senate’s decision to withdraw federal funding from President Obama’s former employer came after the organization was caught on video giving tax and legal advice to a man and woman posing as a pimp and a prostitute looking to set up a human trafficking operation in Baltimore. The scandal has been plastered all over the internet and received wall to wall coverage in a few media outlets. Gibson’s take: “I didn’t even know about it” (transcript and audio available here). Gibson’s blatant ignorance of a scandal that any ratings-respecting news anchor ought to be drooling over begs an important question: is today’s media biased, or just living on another planet?

Literally volumes have been written on the bias in today’s media, but bias in the American media is nothing new. Many eighteenth and nineteenth century newspapers made no pretense of neutrality. Before the era of broadcast media, newspapers would often align themselves with political parties and made little effort to distinguish news from editorial. Our modern concept of “journalistic neutrality” is in many regards a product of the professionalization of journalism that occurred following the advent of radio. While neutrality in broadcast media has never really been more than a guise, many Americans can remember a time when it was at least a goal.

Today, the very guise of neutrality that has given the media life through all these years is now causing its death. Through history, Americans have traditionally been quite comfortable with media bias in and of itself. But bias under the guise of neutrality strikes a different chord. It is one thing to say, “I’m a liberal, and here is how I see the news,” or to say, “I’m a conservative, and here is how I see the news.” But to say, “I am an objective observer,” and then spout out political propaganda is an insult to your audience. Bias in editorial is a fair exercise of the freedom of speech; bias in what is presented as non-partisan news is dishonesty in its simplest form.

A Pew Research poll released this week reveals that more and more Americans are questioning not just the bias, but the honesty and integrity of mainstream media sources. According to the poll, only 18% believe that the major news organizations “deal fairly with all sides” of an issue, down 8% from two years ago. Only 29% of Americans believe that news organizations “get the facts straight,” and 70% of Americans believe that news organizations go so far as to “try to cover up [their] mistakes” (see full results). No wonder so many are turning to the “new media” for their information.

It is telling to observe that as Americans turn away from the mainstream media they are turning to sources of media which are not less biased but rather more upfront about their bias. What bugs Americans about the mainstream media is not the bias, it is the dishonesty. If shows like Mr. Gibson’s hope to compete with the “new media” the first thing they need to do is to start openly admitting that their mission is to promote a certain political agenda. They may lose the one or two viewers that didn’t already know this, but they might gain some respect. It would also be the first step to regain the trust of the throngs that have tuned them out.

One American’s Apology: How I personally Am Responsible for Rising Health Care Costs and What it Means to America

In this tense social climate politicians and lobbyists everywhere are looking for people to blame for the country’s problems. In the health care debate, some politicians are blaming insurance companies for rising health care costs, while others blame lawyers and bureaucrats. Rather than contribute to this finger pointing, I for one would like to take personal responsibility for the health care crisis. You see, I am the one to blame.

We all know that in any market, price is set by supply and demand. We also know that supply and demand also have a natural tendency to adjust to price, except when extenuating factors are involved. In American health care, we have a severe case of demand outweighing supply. I am currently in my mid twenties. I just graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from a respected university. I have a strong academic background in the biological sciences and have always had a desire to help others. I have a fascination with human physiology and have strongly considered going into medicine at numerous stages of life. I have given thought to going into orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, or physical therapy. I am exactly the kind of person who could, should, and would be pursuing a career in health care. Instead, I am pursuing an entirely different career path. Here is why:

  1. The Cost of Education. I have many friends who have gone to medical school. The number one concern among all of them is how they will pay off their student debts. For many of them, their debts are in the six figures. With the costs of buying a practice and buying a home, it is not uncommon for doctors to start their careers seven figures in debt.
  2. The Cost of Malpractice Insurance. As much as I would love to help people become healthier purely out of the goodness of my heart, in order for me to stay in business and feed my family, I would need to make a few dollars in the process just to survive. Unfortunately, when malpractice insurance can be as high as $100,000 a year for obstetricians, one of the specialties that most interests me, making a buck can be much harder than most consumers realize. When Medicare and Medicaid, as well as insurance companies, set certain rates that they pay for services, it is easy for doctors to get squeezed into bankruptcy. Many have argued that tort reform would solve this. I am sure that it could only help. However, there are more reasons for rising malpractice insurance costs than high pain and suffering pay outs. A few reasons include investment losses by insurance companies, rising costs of legal services, and rising health care costs driving up the costs of repairing injuries caused by malpractice (sense a viscous cycle?). The Boston Globe published an enlightening article on this topic a few years ago (see article).
  3. The Threat of Socialized Medicine. Long before the days of Obamacare, there was Hillarycare. Whether or not the government takes control of health care during Obama’s reign or not, there will always be a threat that it could happen. Just the mere threat that I could go through ten years of medical school and start up a practice, only to have some bureaucrat tell me who I can treat, when I can treat them, how I can treat them, and how much money I can make is a scary enough thought to make me think twice.

I do not intend this to be a comprehensive list of why health care costs are on the rise. It is merely what I claim it to be – a list of my reasons for staying clear from the health care industry. Are there others like me? Ask around.

The Groggy Giant: America’s Silent Majority is Waking Up, but Are We Doing Enough?

A recent Gallup Poll found that conservatives outnumber liberals by at least a small margin in all 50 states, and nearly 2 to 1 nationwide (see article). This may seem strange when viewed in the context of the balance of people who show up at the polls on voting day. While liberals have always had a reputation for poor voter turnout for demographic reasons, the real secret in American politics is that conservatives are the ones who don’t vote and don’t get involved. It only makes sense that those who want the government out of their lives would in fact be less likely to take an interest in it. But what the left in this country will soon realize is that this is changing. As government forces its way into its citizens’ lives, people everywhere are waking up to it. But the battle is just beginning.

In my last post, I spoke about “the sleeping giant” in America as an otherwise silent population that only speaks up when threatened.  Today these individuals are rallying across the country as part of the 9/12 Project.   I attended one of these events with my wife, where a crowd gathered to watch video coverage of the protest in Washington.  Expect today’s events to go unrecognized by the media, but not by the hundreds of thousands who participated.

I was asked today about what the purpose of these rallies is. I was a little uncomfortable with the fact that I did not have a clear answer.  The 9/12 Project’s website contains a very vague mission statement, basically saying that everyone is coming together to protest high taxes/big government/corruption/partisanship/HR 3200 and to support bipartisanship/freedom/liberty/small government/integrity in Washington/grass roots involvement/alternative health care reform options, etc.  I have to say that I don’t know exactly what the focus of all of this excitement is, but I do know that I like it, whatever it is.  It seems as if the silent majority in this country is at the beginning of a real awakening. And they are off to a good start.  But like many of us in the morning, this awakening giant seems a little groggy and confused.

From mingling among these protestors, it seems that many Americans know what they believe in, and what they hope in, and want to see change in Washington, but they don’t really know where to begin. If using words like “believe,” “hope,” and “change” sounds a little like a tired campaign slogan from last year, there is a reason for that. As we as a country begin to rally behind the banner of conservatism, we must be careful that we stay out of the clouds. Let us leave rallying behind vague and elusive utopian principles for the other side. To say that we want to see less corruption is all well and good. To say that we want less government spending is all well and good. But let us not confuse principles with ideas. If we are to see real “change” in our government, we will have to learn to translate the good and wonderful principles this country was founded on into real world practical ideas that everyone can rally behind. In other words, there has to be a game plan.

Here is my game plan:

  1. Speaking up about the health care bill is a good place to start. More Americans need to contact their senators and congressmen, and the White House (please notice the links). There is a reason Obama has made this plan such a priority in his presidency. He knows the implications of this bill for the future of American capitalism, and he doesn’t care. Bottom line, we can’t afford to let this pass.
  2. Start thinking 2010. Less than 14 months stand between us and the next congressional election. But waiting 13 months to take notice will not be good enough. The next set of congressional primaries could very well determine the fate of the nation. If we want to have a choice next November between honest liberal Democrats and honest conservative Republicans, we must start taking notice now of who is seeking nomination. Too many important elections lately have been between corrupt liberal Democrats and corrupt liberal Republicans. This must change.
  3. Education, education, education. Read the Constitution. Read the Declaration of Independence. Lend an ear to good people in Washington and throughout the country who are proposing real solutions to our problems. A prime example of what I mean is an article put out by the Heritage Foundation recently about the growing problem of entitlement spending and a practical plan for fixing the problem (see article). I have now included a feed of the Heritage Foundation’s most recent research-based papers on the homepage of my blog. But the Heritage Foundation is just one source of refreshing ideas. I personally admire the work of Professor Walter E. Williams of George Mason University and Professor Thomas Sowell of Stanford University. Seek out quality sources of facts and ideas like these and make sure your representatives know how you feel about these ideas.
  4. Start thinking about the 2012 primaries. Again, I am a firm believer that primaries are at least as important as general elections if not more so. It is never too early to get involved. If you think a particular politician has integrity, good ideas, and good leadership skills, there is no rule saying that you cannot write them a letter encouraging them to run for president.
  5. Keep it up and stay on the offensive. I have to hand it to the liberals. They know how to make their presence known. And they do it non-stop. They do not ease off and wait for the next threat. Neither should we.

I am optimistic about what the future holds for us. This is a great nation founded by great men and on great ideas. It just needs a little TLC right now.

Divided We Stand: How America Has Come Full Circle Since 9/12/2001

Just a quick lead-in to my first blog post: setting up a political blog on this historic anniversary may seem to some to be a little cliché, and to other perhaps inappropriate. In truth, it is purely coincidence. I have been working on setting up a blog for a while, and this happened to be the day it all came together. However, I do have a few things to say about what happened eight years ago today, and I suppose there is no better way for me to kick things off.

It seems as though America has come full circle in the last eight years. When I look back to September 2001, I think of two things. First I think of the evil deeds of a few radical terrorists. In my young life, never before had I had such occasion to witness such horrific evil on such a large scale. No act of war or crime that has been committed in response to that attack can or should ever be compared morally to the pure evil that led a small group of men to take so many innocent lives. It disturbs me to no end that so many in the mainstream media seem to have lost sight of this. The second thing that comes to mind is how united this country was in the weeks that followed the attack. It was only the second act of war on our soil in more than 100 years. Following the other attack Isoroku Yamamoto said, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant.” Osama Bin Laden accomplished the same. And what a giant to behold! We stood strong; we stood united.

Some may say that today’s America could not be more different than it was then. Then we were united; today we could not be more divided. While I concede that our unrest today arises from internal rather than external tension, I do not feel that we are divided. To the contrary, I have never seen America more united or more resolute than right now. Look around. People everywhere are raising their voices and being heard! Last weekend, my wife and I attended an event with nearly 18,000 Americans uniting together to oppose the health care bill (video below). Obama made an appearance the same weekend just down the road and only drew one fourth of that (see article). Tomorrow, millions of Americans will likely be gathering in locations throughout the country for the 9/12 project. Americans are shouting from the rooftops, “WE WANT OUR FREEDOM!” This kind of excitement, this kind of unity, this much enthusiasm for liberty is like nothing I have ever seen before. I couldn’t be more proud of this country than I am right now.

I encourage everyone to attend 9/12 events this weekend. For those in Ohio, there will be rallies held in Cincinnati, Columbus, Mansfield, Ashland, as well as other places (Click here for details). And as always, bug your congressman and senators. In an upcoming blog, I plan to post contact info for some key politicians.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to follow my new blog. I promise to always make it worthwhile.  Be sure to check out the “About” and “Subscribe” links above.

God bless America!

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson


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