December 9, 2012

Multiple options in media varies political views

I enjoyed Colin Read’s Nov. 4 Press-Republican column where he points out that technology has contributed to a vanishing centrist view in politics. 

In the past, when newspapers were the main delivery medium for news, editors had to be careful not to skew the facts too far to the right or the left as the readers were sure to contain citizens of both persuasions. As a result, the news was nudged toward the middle of the political road if, for no other reason, it would outrage fewer readers and was certainly the best choice in terms of the bottom line.

Now most everyone has the Internet and cable TV, both of which can provide the type and slant of news most any individual desires. In addition to cooking, pet and golf channels, Fox caters to the right, and MSNBC is left of center. This tends to polarize the politics of our nation and could certainly be a significant cause of our gridlocked government that, like the weather, everyone complains about, but no one seems to be able to change.

However, that said, I must respectfully (there’s a word you don’t hear very often anymore) disagree with my colleague. Newspapers, even in their heyday, were divided into right, left and center politically in their editorials and even their choice of headlines. I recall back in the ‘60s, a headline from the Manchester Union Leader stating: “UN Mercenaries Invade Congo.” Of course, this was the opinion of the owner (Loeb) of the publication, but the people who regularly purchased this paper were also the choir he was preaching to. This seems very similar to what Fox and MSNBC are doing when they broadcast the opinions of Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow. Actually, Fox and MSNBC are being more intellectually honest and transparent with us as they do not claim that Hannity and Maddow are newscasters but are merely commentators. And as commentators, they can vent their biases to their bases rather freely. The issue is, however, when you sit down for a meal, do you want your soup with one flavor overpowering all of the others or would you rather they all work to complement each other?

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