Media Accountability

Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized MedicineYesterday, I wrote about Liz Cheney’s insane rant against Obama and Obamacare. The insightful healthcare policy observer Aaron Carroll wrote about the Reagan quote she used that freedom was over because of the evil which Cheney dare not speak its name. That evil, of course, is Medicare. Cheney conveniently left out that context for the quote because it only would have highlighted how wrong Reagan was and Chaney is with their hysterical domino theorizing.

Carroll puts it all into context:

Yes, Medicare was the death of freedom in 1961. It was tyranny.[1] It was the end of America.

Last I checked, Medicare passed, and America is still here. Now it’s Obamacare that will kill freedom, enact tyranny, and end America.

At what point do people who use such hyperbolic rhetoric stop and recognize that their dire warnings never come to pass? One would imagine that people who repeated Reagan’s talking points back in 1961 might find it a bit humbling to see how wrong they were. You’d think they’d shy from repeating those arguments again.

But, no. They get op-ed space on the WSJ.

This, I think, is the real problem. No one ever loses anything because they are shown to be shockingly ignorant. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, no one wants to be around others who make them look bad. So someone like John McLaughlin is not going to fill his panel show with people who were right about the Iraq War or the housing bubble. The mainstream media will continue to be wrong about major policy issues because they don’t want to admit being wrong in the past. Another reason is just that the people on the TV machine and in major newspapers are not there because they are right or smart; they are there because they are friends with with the people who run the TV stations and newspapers.

It frustrates me that such people are allowed to say things that are so obviously wrong—even at the time they say it. But this explains why, say, the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s (CPC) budget gets almost no coverage while Paul Ryan’s fictional budgets get blanket coverage: no one who would be interested in a progressive budget is employed in the mainstream media. It isn’t that they have it out for such ideas; it is just that those kinds of people are not serious, even if they have quite a good record of being, you know, right. Thus: why employ such people?

And so Liz Cheney continues to write Op-Eds and Reagan continues to be treated as though he had ever been a great thinker. There is no solution to be found within the mainstream media itself. Instead, we must look to sources of information that provide voices to a larger selection of thinkers. Despite what conservatives claim, it isn’t necessary on the right. Unless the person is explicitly racist, you will see their ideas presented and even pushed in the mainstream media. For example, the guys who brought us the idiotic Freedom Map occupied an entire feature on “liberal” MSNBC’s prime time coverage. This is about equal to all of the coverage of the CPC’s budget. So it is important to watch shows like Democracy Now! and The Young Turks. And to read this site and the lesser sites such as those listed on the sidebar.

If you stick with the mainstream media (much less the conservative media), all you will get is an endless parade of lies and incompetence with never a whisper of accountability.

[1] This was mistyped “tyrrany” in the original article on Carroll’s blog, The Incidental Economist. That’s understandable; it happens all the time. But then it was picked up by The Washington Monthly—a real publication. But they didn’t catch it. What is wrong with the publishing world? I accept that blogs are going to have a lot of errors because they don’t have editors or pretty much any staff. But why can’t actual newspapers, magazines, and book publishers manage to copy edit their content? This story ran three days before it was published in The Washington Monthly. So time wasn’t the issue. They appear just not to care.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Media Accountability

  1. Speaking of build-ups to war, I caught something interesting today; maybe you might enjoy it. I read that the US is moving some more military ships near North Korea, including a “Sea-Based X-Type” radar installation, basically a huge, slow-moving, oil-rig-type deal capable of self-propulsion, usually based in Hawaii. This was reported by many sources, here’s one:

    OK. So far, so dull. But I also have on hand an old “Rolling Stone” from 10/4/07. In it, there’s a lengthy piece by respected science and military technology writer Jack Hitt (it starts on page 60) about the boondoggle that is our goofy missile-defense program (e.g., “Star Wars.”) The program is admitted by sources in the article to be almost an utter failure, with huge cost overruns due to unforeseeable circumstances (like, um, rain), and is no longer considered capable of its original purpose, destroying a Soviet first-strike ICBM attack. About the only thing the program might, possibly, be able to do is shoot down a low-tech, slow-moving missile from (drumroll please) North Korea. The article also describes how a large and profitable cottage industry has grown around building “Star Wars”; they even have conventions for subcontractors to hawk their wares.

    A nifty illustration on pages 64-65 depicts the centerpiece of the program, a monster radar installation, basically a huge, slow-moving, oil-rig-type deal capable of self-propulsion, usually based in Hawaii. The article calls it the “SBX.” Now, if that’s not the “Sea-Based X-Type” radar being moved near North Korea right now (at the speed of smell), I’ll eat my hat.

    It seems quite likely to me that the current “crisis” with North Korea is being manufactured or agitated to give the SBX a real-life trial run. No, North Korea is not going to shoot missiles at American cities (as if they could, which I seriously doubt.) But they may be provoked (encouraged, my darker side wonders?) to shoot one at an American ship in the area, allowing the SBX to show how much more operational it’s become since 2007.

    This may sound conspiratorial, but I have no reason to doubt the Hitt article (“Rolling Stone” has been pretty solid with its political reporting since Taibbi kicked its butt up a notch, and Hitt has credentials) nor reports of the SBX being deployed right now. Since North Korea has no reason to provoke any major US reprisal, and the US has no serious strategic interest in waging war with North Korea, this whole scenario smells very Gulf of Tonkin to me – but less as a justification for war than merely a pimping of a program that has never worked, will never work except in very specific scenarios, and is a cash cow for contractors.

    Might seem nuts to you, but the minute a friend told me she was worried about North Korea bombing us (she watches too much of the regular news) I wondered if it had anything to do with that old “Star Wars” program, and – lo and behold – the SBX is getting to leave Hawaii and go do something. Hopefully it doesn’t all get fucked up and result in some sailors getting killed for no good reason.

  2. @JMF – That’s an interesting take on it, but do you really think that the government needs a reason to do any of this? Our kids may go without but never our military!

    I can see what you are saying and I’m sure that some people are thinking this is a great opportunity to test their technology. But past that, I doubt much is going on.

    My take on this is that North Korea wants to get Free Stuff (patent pending, Mitt Romney) in exchange for being good. They are China’s problem, not ours.

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