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Starting With Media Bias and then Who Knows?

Recently I’ve found myself pointing out media bias. The thing that I’ve noticed is that people pick their media and assume it’s objective, then assume the other sources are biased. I’m not the first to notice this. The point isn’t at all new, but it is amazing how pervasive it is nonetheless. Here are a few thoughts and observations in no particular order.

Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, signed a bill into law yesterday making it a whole lot easier for the state’s teachers to carry guns at school. The law cuts the amount of required training from 700 hours to just 24 hours, well below Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour recommendation. DeWine said legislators have been working on the bill since last year, but the recent school shooting in Uvalde, TX, “increased the urgency to enact it.”

I subscribe to some supposedly unbiased news emails. And they have far less observable bias than say MSNBC or FOX. The quote above is from one of those emails. Imagine if it was about CPR equipment. Would ‘just 24 hours’ be enough training? would the author feel the need to invoke Gladwell’s (Christensen’s actually) 10,000 hours? This particular example is important to be because it’s subtle. If you don’t consciously separate fact from opinion, it seems like a dispassionate argument and those are the most persuasive. Notice that the number of hours was ‘cut’ not ‘reduced’. Let’s rewrite this twice, the first time as neutral as I’m capable of and the second, pro-firearm. This could be fun.

Neutral: Ohio Governor DeWine signed a bill into law reducing the training requirement for teachers to carry a firearm from 700 to 24. DeWine said legislatures have been working on the bill since last year but the recent shooting in Ulvade, TX, “increased the urgency to enact it.” (It is possible that the unquoted part of DeWine’s statement was written to remind the reader that children had been murdered and activate their anger, but I wasn’t there, so I’m using the sentence as is.)

Conservative: With a stroke of his pen, stalwart conservative Republican Governor, Mike DeWine signed a bill into law yesterday allowing the state’s school teachers more freedom in exercising their constitutional right to protect themselves. The new law slashes the 700 hour training requirement to carry a firearm on school property to a more reasonable 24. DeWine said legislatures have been workin on the bill since last year, but the recent school shooting in Uvalde, TX, where the students were not protected by armed faculty “increased the urgency to enact it.”

I’m not a journalist, at least any more than any other person with access to the internet, but it’s pretty obvious that word choices and framing matter. I would love actual unbiased, but we can’t get it because we are human. Since we can’t, it’s important to be aware. Far more important than word choice though, is story choice. There are categories of things that the media just doesn’t report, things they just don’t question, and stuff they only report one side of. Here’s a few quick ones.

Hillary Clinton and her campaign created what’s called ‘opposition research’ on Donald Trump. This material, eventually called the ‘Trump Dossier’ was all fake. It was made up. It was used to spy on the campaign and create ‘impeachment traps’ for members of his staff. Much other stuff. Once this was found out, we just stopped talking about it. There was an asshat celebrity claiming to be in search of the ‘pee tapes’, a particularly salacious (and completely made up) part of the dossier, who did a podcast spreading this made up garbage. Yes Trump did say he could ‘grab girls by the pussy’. No he didn’t hire hookers to pee in a bed that Obama slept in. But it’s better to pretend to ourselves he did.

Persecution of homosexuals in the United States is questioning whether minors should be allowed to take hormone altering drugs, or not letting them have books read to them by alternatively dressed people. Persecution of homosexuals in many foreign countries includes throwing them off the top of buildings. But please, make a federal case out of ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’. That’s where the battle needs to be fought.

Roe V. Wade was a bad decision. Or at least Biden thought so. Here’s an interesting quote: “women did not have “the sole right to say what should happen” to their bodies.”. There never was a ‘right to privacy’ in the Constitution. I wish there was. I’d give up abortion in an infant’s heart beat to have a right to privacy. But we have no such right. Further, RVW doesn’t even outlaw abortion, not that you’d know it from the coverage. It puts the decision on the states. Some states will outlaw it. Some states will put in drive throughs. Some states might boot it down to the county level, I don’t know. We could have…(here should be a clever riff on ‘dry counties’ but I wasted what marginal cleverness I had for this subject with the absurd ‘infant’s heartbeat’ comment) counties with and without abortion. But we can’t have that conversation because we’re too busy lying that the second RVW is repealed the coat hanger doctors are all going to set up rusty medical tables in a ‘back alley’ whatever a ‘back alley’ is.

We only report present extreme weather and future tragedy. We never revisit it when it is wrong. And it is inevitably wrong. The list is never ending. Let’s visit a few so that maybe when they say that this hurricane season is the ‘worst ever’ and it’s caused by climate change and we know this and if you believe anything else you are a climate denier and if you DARE to speak against the narrative we will END YOU figuratively or literally, depending on the particular brand of hystaricist issuing the threat, we can all take a step back and think about whether or not we’ve seen this before.

  1. In 1995 The NY Times stated that most of our beaches on the east coast would be gone in 25 years. That prediction came true in 2020, except it didn’t. It did gin up a lot of bad feelings at the time, and no apology later. Maldives under water by 2018. New York’s West Side Highway will be underwater by 2019?
  2. Ice ages predicted in 1974 without a date, then subsequently due dates were given for the freeze, 2000, 2020, and 2030. Obviously we can’t rule out 2030 yet, but if it does happen won’t the global warming crowd have egg on their face? No the won’t. Like all good businesses in search of a profitable business model they ‘pivoted’ to ‘climate change’ so as long as the climate is not the same as earlier they can claim victory. Plus we’re not going to have eggs in 2030.
  3. As if these Ice Age predictions weren’t enough, the Arctic will be ice-free by 2015.
  4. Food shortages and disasters: famine 1975, 1980. Water rationing necessary by 1974.
  5. Ozone and acid rain will destroy the earth. 1980’s I think.
  6. In the year 2000 it was predicted that children wouldn’t know what snow is. I’ll give them this one. With our education system I find it easy to believe that children could be in snow and not know what snow is.
  7. Oil will run out in 1976, 1992. Oops. Now we have the boogie man of ‘peak oil’. Peak oil happens in 2000, 2010, and 2020. We haven’t hit it yet. There is more oil under Alaska than there is under Saudi Arabia. When we get cold enough, or frustrated enough we’ll go get it.
  8. Pollution will kill all fish, you’ll wear a gas mask if you live in a city, killer bees, nitrogen will make all land unusable, the oceans will die by 1980, there will be 50 million climate refugees by 2020, entire nations will be wiped off the earth by global warming by the year 2000.

I didn’t make any of these up. (Except for one, I put a fake one in here just for fun. Bet you can’t find it.) I remember many of them from my life. Some I had to look up details on. And there’s a lot I left out. The running out of oil thing is just one example of the ‘running out’ genre. We area also supposed to have run out (multiple times) of tin, gold, copper, natural gas, aluminum, and so on. The template is ‘GIGANTIC HORRIBLE CLAIM’ to sell newspapers, clicks, votes, or whatever, then it doesn’t happen, so we make a new ‘GIGANTIC HORRIBLE CLAIM’ to keep the fear up. News that says everything is going to be OK is in short supply, but look around. Everything is mostly OK.

Here’s a list of things you must believe or pretend to believe in polite society centered on former President Trump. It’s fair to say most of these were absolutely debunked. The ones that weren’t (5 maybe a little if you want to interpret it that way, 9, & 10) are things that reasonable people can disagree on. In a civilized world we could discuss them, but we no longer live in a civilized world, and we can’t.

1. Russia Collusion Hoax
2. Steele Dossier hooker story
3. Russian paying bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan
4. Trump called Neo-Nazis “Fine people”
5. Trump suggested drinking/injecting bleach to fight COVID
6. Trump overfed koi fish in Japan
7. Trump cleared protestors with tear gas for a bible photo op
8. Hunter’s laptop was Russian disinformation
9. Elections were fair because no court found major fraud
10. January 6th was an “insurrection to overthrow the government”

This has gone on long enough and I have other things that are more fun to think about. But I do want to mention one other thing. I’m going to do it without stating the usual caveats. Just assume I’m a good human and my heart is in a good place. A football coach of the finally named Washington Commanders asked why we’re spending a boat load of money on the January 6 ‘Insurrection’ or whatever, and virtually none (or effort, or anything really) on the BLM protests. He was fined $100,000 for asking a question. I do not know the dollar amount of damage done to our capital. I do not know if January 6 broke democracy. It doesn’t seem so. I only know (despite blatantly dishonest testimony in the hearings) that of one person losing their life as a direct result of January 6. That person was an unarmed female who was shot by an officer. Collectively the riots claimed the lives of 30 or more people and caused damage in excess of a billion dollars. But we can’t talk about that. When reporters stand in front of a burning building and call protests peaceful we’re supposed to agree. When mass looting takes place we’re supposed to ignore it, or call it virtuous and label it reparations. Because I guess the stockholders of Costco and Nike were slave traders. This man is going to lose his job for having the opinion that investigating a movement that led to such death and destruction is worthy of investigation.

They used to say ‘don’t say the quiet part out loud’. I think maybe just don’t say anything if you have something to lose. The media has adopted that practice, or they seem to have.

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