Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hello, I'm a clueless journalist

Given my previous entry--on the supposed increase in divisive discourse in politics--I can't help but share the following bit from the Daily Show:

In it, John Oliver interviews the president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, one Froma Harrop. The reason for the fun is that this is the organization behind the Civility Project:
The Civility Project does not seek to redefine political campaigning or reinvent the public-policy conversation. We aim to be persuasive, no matter how great the distance between points of view, in promoting respect, not only for the adversary but also for the audience and for the democratic institutions whose wellbeing depends so much on the wisdom of an informed electorate.
Meanwhile, the president of the NCEW wallows in divisive rhetoric, herself, having no problem referring to tea party folks as terrorists and hostage-takers. A sample:
Make no mistake: The tea party Republicans have engaged in economic terrorism against the United States – threatening to blow up the economy if they don’t get what they want. And like the al-Qaida bombers, what they want is delusional: the dream of restoring some fantasy caliphate in which no one pays taxes, while the country is magically protected from foreign attack and the elderly get government-paid hip replacements.
And the irony of this is lost on Ms. Harrop. Again, and again, and again, and again.

However, note that in the bit quoted from Ms. Harrop's Aug. 6, 2011 op-ed, she not only engages in name calling, she also openly mischaracterizes the truth (for those that don't speak pundit, that means she lies). Which tea party Republican was advocating no taxes for anyone? None of them, of course. But that's the way of things for ideologues who like to pretend they're objective journalists: build a strawman whenever possible so you can make yourself--or your side--look good. And to be clear, this is not a left-right thing at all. Everyone does it. The trick is--for the common person--learning how to filter out such nonsense.

That's every bit as true for all of the divisive rhetoric and violent imagery people like Ms. Harrop and Representative Wasserman-Schultz are complaing about, the imagery that is, was, and always will be present in an open political system like that of America.

To be fair to Ms. Harrop, however, I'd like to point out that--according to Kevin Drum at Mother Jones--she seems "very nice."

Cheers, all.

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