Based on a single issue–my support for a more socially just reform of our health care system–I attract more than my fair share of less than civil remarks. Regardless of what my views might be on other issues (e.g., the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, abortion, gay marriage, education, taxation, etc.) I am considered to be, as even some of my own relatives have pronounced, a “flaming liberal.” Never mind that I was born and raised in the deep south–which does NOT mean Atlanta. Never mind that my beliefs on social issues are informed more by my religious convictions than by political rhetoric. Never mind that hanging on the wall in my study are photographs of Thomas Jefferson, Barack Obama, Dwight Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Billy Graham, and Paul Harvey. Never mind any of this. People love to put other people in boxes, and my box is apparently postmarked and addressed to “Soviet Russia” or “Communist China” in many people’s eyes. Of course most of these people don’t know me, don’t bother to inquire about my views on the other issues I listed above, and most likely don’t care to change either of those things.
Instead, people want to argue with me about things in which I am well versed and in which they have the level of understanding handed to them by a television personality. A part of that is fine, because I realize that not everyone is as passionate about our health care system as I am. Not everyone wants to pursue a graduate degree in health policy or health services research. Not everyone has time to gather all the information, let alone process it. So people take shortcuts. I understand that. What I do not understand is how certain people could possibly believe that the information they hear from one of the television personalities on Fox News is in any way “fair and balanced” as the network claims. The often cited statistics by proponents of Fox News that it is the most watched cable news network in the nation is a weak attempt to argue for its veracity. Just because a large number of people endorse something doesn’t make it true. If the information Fox News was providing was truthful and accurate, that fact would not be enhanced by an additional 10 million viewers. In fact, if it were true, it would be true even if no one watched the channel. So that appeal to the masses falls flat on its face in my opinion.
Some of you might be wondering, “Why the sudden criticisms of Fox News?” Well, frankly, because I’m just tired of people who engage me in “debate” about health reform doing little more than parroting the talking points fed to them by a biased “news” network. And, before any of you Fox lovers start in with the comments about how the network isn’t biased, perhaps you should read up on this story about how News Corp., which owns Fox News, made a $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association in an election year. When you read it, you’ll probably latch on to this part in particular: “The corporate donation has no impact on the reporting activities of our newsgathering organizations. There is a strict wall between business and editorial and the corporate office does not consult with our newsgathering organizations before making donations.” Well, no joke. The corporate office employs the newsgathering organizations. It’s not going to consult them about making political donations. But, again, that fact does nothing to preclude the corporate office from setting the political agenda of the newsgathering organizations. And, why trust this article anyway? It appears in the Wall Street Journal, which–surprise!–is also owned by News Corp. Write something bad about the people who sign your paycheck? Yeah, I’m sure that happens there all the time.