As I mentioned in this post from a few days ago, I am generally disappointed in the state of the media these days. Most media outlets have either become propaganda outlets or resigned themselves to reporting “he-says-she-says” news without any discussion of the merits of the two sides, to avoid the appearance of bias. This makes it easy for people to get the news in a fashion that doesn’t challenge their worldview, which I think enables false talking points to propagate through our political dialogue. An idea gets planted, often through statements like “some people worry that…”, and takes root because (a) it conforms to the worldview of the person who hears it and (b) people rely on a narrow set of sources to get their information, none of which ever explicitly call out that idea as being false.
I’m worry that the problem just became worse, with the launching of theBlaze.com. This website is “brought to you by Glenn Beck and a dedicated team of writers, journalists & video producers.” The managing editor is Scott Baker, formerly of Breitbart TV, part of the group of Breitbart websites that gave us the ACORN prostitution scandal (which the California AG found to be a “highly selective editing of reality“) and the Shirley Sherrod video (also so “heavily edited” as to be misleading).
For the most part, Glenn Beck’s new website will (hopefully) not impact my life much. I’ll check in every now and again to see what kind of outrageous claims he is making. Currently there are stories claiming Al Sharpton is a racist and a (surprise, surprise) seemingly highly edited video showing a UCSD professor and lecturer talking about giving GPS phones to illegal immigrants to assist in their border crossings.
But the reason that this website troubles me is that I think it will lead to more people like those shown in the video below, taken at Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally.
I have no doubts that this video is also edited for effect, and that there was a lot of footage that was left out with the purpose of highlighting the more ignorant and hateful comments (and there are plenty of those). The Daily Caller is up in arms because the two men who made the video, rather than identifying themselves as New Left Media, identified themselves as students from Wright State, which sounds like RightState, a good name for a conservative blog (they actually are students at Wright State University, it was not just a ploy). But even in light of that, the opinions expressed in that video are troubling. Troubling, but not hard to identify. They are the memes that have long been alluded to, propagated, and given credibility by the right wing media. Maybe not through explicit endorsements, but by repeated mentions, by providing platforms to those who espouse them, and by failing to provide honest fact-checking.
So when I see a website like Beck’s, which will probably draw an audience composed almost entirely of Glenn Beck viewers, it worries me. It worries me because of the confidence with which the people in the above video expressed their opinions. These were not things that they had just made up, these were stories that they had read or heard from a source that they deemed credible. And when a large portion of the public refuses to believe the most basic truths about our President, there’s little room for a meaningful discussion about the significant problems that our country is facing.
(h/t Daily Caller)