Remember when the news had to be factual and unbiased? Yeah, okay. Me neither, but I do remember when readers or viewers had the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction.
This doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
What many of us accept as news these days is a hodgepodge of fact, speculation, opinion, and repeats of those aforementioned things, which can be repeated because it is attributed to another source. Of course, we blame this situation on “The Media,” which is ridiculous, particularly since this tends not to be a term used to describe a profession but an insulting misnomer lumping a very diverse group people practicing a profession into a teeming mass identical in characteristics and thus worthy of scorn – you know like “Killer Bees” or “maggots.”
The truth is the news, like any other market, is consumer driven. If The People have steered the market right to the edge of Weekly World territory, well then, that’s where we wanted to go. The problems only arise when those who think aloud expect consumers to be smart enough to know – based on format, position, banner, disclaimer or frequent use of political labels or the word asshat – which is which and what is what.
And some just aren’t.
Some confuse opinion for fact and fact with fiction either because they can’t tell the difference or they are looking for information to support a pre-existing viewpoint. Others – well, their opinions change and perceptions shift as the facts are altered. And even those of us who know better and understand that “information masquerading as fact can be fickle” feel pressured to make snap judgments – then put it out there because it’s a “current issue”. Of course, once out there with all of the true, false and unsubstantiated, the facts get harder to find.
I’ve been asked countless times for my opinion on Sarah Palin or when I might “blog about the candidate, the rumors, etc.” Well, I haven’t formed an opinion yet. I don’t know enough about Sarah Palin to offer up an accurate assessment of who she is or what she offers the Republican party besides a bra. I have first impressions being: She’s not polished. She’s unaccustomed to the national stage. Damn, she’s so conservative she makes Aunt Ethel seem liberal. (Wait! Should lack of political shine be refreshing? Or like most Americans, do I expect politicians to put on a show – even as I complain about the insincerity, dishonest nature and need for showmanship in politics? Yes, I think I do. Yikes. Does this mean I won’t vote for anyone who didn’t write a cheesy autobiography? I hope not.)
As for the other “news” – I don’t want to read attacks or commentary about her parenting. I’m a mother too. I happen to know the job comes with more than its fair share of critics. In fact, it’s one of the few professions in world where you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t – because the entire world feels entitled to grade your performance. If Palin waterboards her children or parents in some way that would reveal dark corners of her character – tell me this. Otherwise, I am willing to skip the nasty comments over at Huffington Post about the baby being up past bedtime during the convention, which is the baby who is rumored not to be her baby and not the baby who’s having a baby. I can also do without information from the daughter’s boyfriend’s myspace or facebook page – unless he’s up for a White House position. I don’t care about allegations that she vacuums the carpet against the nap or vice versa – you know whichever way is bad.
Likewise I haven’t pondered overmuch on if she’s too old to have that hairstyle (which is described as the “Barracuda Look” in this article picked up by Huff – one which also suggests the author is 90% certain the eyeglasses are a prop, despite the fact Palin wore glasses as a child – which just goes to show 10% bites you in the ass every time.)
But again – I don’t care. It’s not like foreign counties, terrorists or domestic enemy forces (such as Don Wildmon) are going to be sitting around saying, “What? Attack America(ns)! We can’t do that. I mean have you not seen their VPs hair! It’s gorgeous!”
As a voter, I want to know the facts about her actions as a public official. I’m interested in the Gary Lundgren deal and the findings of the trooper incident. I am not interested in exaggerated tales of her push for creationism in schools (um, hello Tennessee?) the books she banned (as appeared in the community blogs portion of Obama’s website and was later removed) although some of the books on the list weren’t printed when she allegedly banned them. And oh yes, I do love it that Palin’s nomination is enough of a threat that it’s caused Obama to drop the righteous act. He’s no longer playing the ever-patient smeared-online martyred candidate, who floats along the high road while pleading for love, peace, hope, change, kindness, harmony, joy and Skittles candy for all. He’s throwing his own punches now – and in doing so, looks less perfect, different and beautiful than he once did. At least, I no longer smell cotton candy and expect a choir to start singing about rainbows and butterflies in the middle of his speaking engagements. For this I am grateful.
Otherwise, as millions of reporters and bloggers attempt to understand the politics and players of another state in 15 minutes or less – the truth about Sarah Palin is a work in progress. And contrary to what the Dems think: I won’t dislike her because her teenage daughter is like other teenage daughters across America. Contrary to what the GOP seems to think: I won’t embrace her just because she has *girl parts.
For now I’m content to sit back, let others unearth the information, toss it out there, have Les Jones fact-check them, and then after the dust settles and we have the VP debates, I’ll figure out if Palin is a good pick. And I’ll let you know.
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