Sunday, July 15, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know....Cable News Channels Are Destroying This Country.

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know....Cable News Channels Are Destroying This Country.

We live in a world where information is quite literally at our fingertips. We live in a world where stories and events can be published the instant they occur. Some may call this progress. Hell, I call it progress, but I am afraid that all this instant gratification, rather than making us better as a society, has fragmented us. Gone are the days of Murrow, Cronkite, and Rather where the NEWS was actually reported. We now live in a world where a person's opinion can be more influential than the truth.

Now Fox News seems to be at the top of everyone's list to make fun of when it comes to reporting opinions rather then the news. Will I deny this fact? No, of course not, but I must say they are apart of a trio of cable news channels that are just as guilty as the big bad Fox. This trio is CNN, MSNBC, and The Fox News Channel. Most people who watch Fox won't say that they watch it because it is Republican leaning. Most of them even have the audacity to quote Fox's self serving "fair and balanced" tag line when saying "I watch Fox news because they are (insert tag line)". Now even though MSNBC and CNN don't have nifty slogans, they appeal just as equally and one sided as their competitors do to the democrats and liberal base. Democrats and liberals have the nerve to say that they watch MSNBC and CNN because they are looking for a more sophisticated and cerebral newscaster. Now just to name a few, I don't think Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Piers Morgan can be considered "sophisticated" and "cerebral". I would liken all three of them to talking heads reading from the New York Times and college-level political science textbooks.

Now, Fox News seems to get the loudest people in the room to report the "news" - i.e Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and the entire cast of "The Five" - and they're told to not worry about sourcing. Just make stuff up and no one will even bother to check to see if its right or not; they will just assume that it is true. It's funny when I have political discussions with people the topic of sourcing always comes up. The interesting dynamic is that people who watch Fox think that the only information they need to know comes from Fox, and if it comes from anywhere else it can't be true, that it's liberal and imagined. Interestingly, the same can be said about people who watch MSNBC and CNN except that if it comes from Fox they just assume that it's not true, and the main problem with their thinking is that if it's written down somewhere or anywhere it must be true.

The introduction of the "Cable News Channel" is one of the main reasons this country is as polarized to the left and right as it is today. Why does the reporting of the news need to have any spin on it at all? Why can't it simply just be reported? Now I know that sounds naïve, but like I said before, and I will say numerous times, if we can just use common sense this country would be so much better. When I make this argument in discussions the most popular response is "Well what if I want to hear opinions that are like mine? Why can't I have a channel where I can listen to people who think like me?" My response is typically this: if you want to watch a network that is strictly based on opinions then keep watching cable news. These networks do not report the news, they show a story and give their opinion on it. If you want to be a news network then report the news, don't tell me your opinion. What this creates is an electorate that is informed by the opinions of candidates and issues but knows nothing about the candidate or the issues. People are constantly being inundated with the story of the day, week, or month. If a story about abortion comes out it is truly an incredible sight to so how different each channel reports it.

Most likely Fox will start the day by reporting the story and interjecting their conservative opinions about the issue. Later on, there will be a guest, most likely a woman, who was a pro-choice activist but then later on in life changed her mind on the whole thing. Next, there will be a guest who is a doctor who will explain in detail about his moral stance against abortion and they will use him as their "scientific expert". Then, the afternoon shows will start, "The Five" being a personal favorite of mine. A group of five people, four conservative and one liberal (how much more fair and balanced could you ask for?) will spend the entire hour discussing the evils of abortion segueing somehow into a tangential conversation about how abortion is going to affect the "taxpayer" and that it's not about morals, it's about the fiscal principle and that we shouldn't have to pay for murder. Then, the prime time shows will start, most likely they will pit Sean Hannity up against the most idiotic liberal they can find off the street and claim this is how America thinks and the country is losing its morals. If there isn't any juice left in the story they will move on to the next hot button issue. If there isn't a hot button issue, they will run with their bread and butter, saying the president is a socialist and a fascist who is a Muslim, and a baptist, and wasn't even born here.

Not to be outdone, MSNBC and CNN will start their day by completely ignoring the issue in the hopes that it will go away. By mid-morning, they realize that Fox has got the jump on them and they start the interviews early. They get on the woman who was a pro-life activist who got pregnant and decided she needed an abortion and changed her mind on the whole thing. Next, there will be a guest on, most likely a feminist from the sixties, claiming that pro-life activists are mostly made up of men who are constantly trying to oppress a woman's right to choose. They will spend most of the afternoon citing Roe v. Wade and bring on constitutional scholars to explain the same point they have tried to report for five hours. Then, the prime time shows come on and Rachel Maddow will have a forty-five-minute monologue where she stares directly into the camera with the most condescending tone she can muster and explain to us why she is right and everyone else is wrong. The last fifteen minutes of her show, she will have a feminist friend on to talk about how Republicans hate women. If there isn't any juice left in the story, they will move on to the next hot button issue. If there isn't a hot button issue, they will run with their bread and butter: Palin, Bush, Republican, and conservative bashing.

Now, as satirical as those news casts might be, they are not far from the truth. I don't watch any of those channels exclusively. If I am being honest, I watch all three but I do not claim to get information from them. I won't cite them and I definitely will not take any of them for there word. If I hear something that interests me, makes me curious, or even makes me mad on a channel, I will do my own personal research. Which basically means, I go to Google and look for the Wikipedia page.

Why are they destroying the country? Well, simply put, both sides are creating "zombie" viewers who just perpetuate the agenda of each party. Both sides are very comfortable persisting under the delusion that everything that they believe to be true is one hundred percent correct. Now of course I know that if you believe something you have to assume that its one hundred percent correct, but what these cable news shows are creating is a society that is so stubborn and arrogant about their opinions that no one can be convinced of anything new. Furthermore, these shows make people standoffish and any opinion contrary to their own is considered a personal attack. The worst part of this entire problem is that it creates an under or uniformed electorate and nation, and polarizes the country to the absolute left and right. It fractures us in such a way that if you find common ground on anything then you must be considered a moderate.

Everyone walks around with talking points that have no real substance. In my experience, most people who use the talking points in arguments don't even know enough about the talking point to make a viable argument. For example, Solyndra has been a favorite talking point with people I have conversations with. So much so that I even hear people make jokes about it. "What like Solyndra? hahahaha" "That sounds like Solyndra Rabble Rabble Rabble" until you ask them about what there actual opinions are about Solyndra. The most common answer is well "Solyndra is the solar company that President Obama invested our tax money in and it failed. It's just typical of a socialist agenda. This is what happens when government gets in the way." That's usually the extent of their knowledge of any issue. The equation is Topic + tax money = Obama is a socialist. The arguments aren't any better when they come from the liberal side, that equation is: America's Problems + Blame Bush = Obama is Awesome.

I constantly get asked when I criticize these news mediums, "Where do you get your information from then?" My response is simple, I say all three, but I also read the New York Times everyday, not cover to cover, just the news and important things. I have a subscription to the Economist and I have an iPhone. Now for those of you who don't know what that means, I have just about every "App" for every news and media outlet there is. I get alerts and read the top stories from each one. Most importantly, I read. I love to read books and just about anything I can get my hands on. If I find a topic that interests me I consume every bit of that topic. I will get five books from authors with contradicting or similar opinions on that topic and just read. To stay informed you need to read. The magic box in your living room is not going to tell you what you need to know. The only way to stay informed and be informed is to read. It's not a coincidence that the Golden Age of this country was a time when people read, and not just for information and news, but for fun because they knew it made them better people. Today, reading has become a fad, whichever popular book is in the media is what sells. Your "Fifty Shades" trilogy, Twilight Saga, etc. Books have become something that you have to read because everyone else is doing it.

All I ask for from the places I get my information is to simply tell me the information. I will put my own spin on it. I don't need you to do it for me. I don't need interpretations of issues and I don't need expert opinions. I am perfectly capable of establishing my own opinions. So, bringing this full circle, gone are the days of the intellectual newscaster who tells it to us straight. Gone are the days of reporters who make sure their information is 100% accurate before they report it as fact. Gone are the days of the reporter who apologizes sincerely if they get something wrong. Finally, gone are the days where the person who comes into you living room every night to tell you the news is a person you trust and believe.

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal


  1. Was the media actually unbiased, or did we just take the reporting at face value because we had no reliable alternative source of information? It's not exactly a secret that Cronkite and Rather were liberally biased (Source:,

    Similarly, Edward R. Murrow fell from grace for spearheading the media blitz against Joseph McCarthy - while this obviously helped McCarthy fall from popularity and put an end to his antics, it would be impossible to say that Murrow's broadcasting was removed from his politics. (Source:

    Obviously, I agree that the rise of cable news and (more recently) tweeting, blogging, etc. comes with significant issues. However, I don't think that the main problem is politics - the American people have always needed to sift through the political bent of their commentators and reporters to get to the truth.

  2. I didn't claim that they were completely unbiased, but I agree that I may have insinuated it. I mentioned Cronkite, Murrow, and Rather because they were intellectual newscasters. They were highly intelligent and you trusted what they said. They reported the news and didn't put a spin on it. I am not doubting that they all may have had some sort of political agenda but they did not have the polarizing effect newscasters have today. Even though they had political opinions they still reported the news as it happened. I mean Cronkite is famous for calling Vietnam a Stalemate but for his entire career that is the one thing that standouts the most. It stands out because its was out of character.

    The reliable alternative sources back then where newspapers and the radio. They were filled with peoples opinions just like television is today. People went to those things because they wanted specific opinions, people knew where to find commentators who thought like them and where to get actual news reporters.

    Today its vastly different, people assume that the opinion makers and commentators are reliable sources of information. People today don't know where to get reliable information anymore. How many people today rally behind the words of Beck, Limbaugh, Bachman, and Palin. Can we really compare that to people getting behind Murrow coming out against McCarthyism.

    Finally people look to the wrong places to find the right information which we agree 100% on. Twisting the truth and perpetuating lies seems to be the way things are done today because it gets ratings. I doubt we will find a newscaster today who is brave enough to sacrifice ratings, job, career, and reputation like Murrow did. The problem is no one knows where to look because of the sheer amount of information out there. It doesn't help the matter when every commentator out there claims to be a newscaster. Prime time news slots were generally left for the news and the events of the day. Now the news is turned into a marathon of opinions and the twisting of numbers to backup arguments.

  3. Hey! What is yous point of view on ads of all kinds on blogging resources?

    1. Not to sure of what you mean but here is the best answer I can give.

      I think that most people who start a blog, even if their intentions are noble and to get their message out there, think that their blog is going to explode and they are going to make money. When you hear a blogger say "I don't do it for the money" chances are their blog sucks and no one is reading it anyway. I don't think ads of all kinds on blogs taint the message in anyway I just think that when you start getting bombarded with ads and you can't read the content because 12 pop-ups hit you than you got a problem because then that person cares more about the money and not about their readers.

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