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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Advent - 19 days to Christmas

Monday, December 6 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Intentionally imbalanced

As quoted on Friday, Neal Gabler on the Fox News Watch show said on November 27: "'fair and balanced' is a great slogan but it is a terrible journalistic practice. Fair, yes. 'Balanced' leads to distortions because it assumes that all facts are created equal, every story has two sides and in point of fact not all facts are created equal. Not all stories have two sides. I think balance is really, really dangerous and the good journalist knows the difference. If we try to balance a story."

My initial reaction to that statement is that, 1. only an idiot* would propose that all facts are created equal and, 2. only an idiot would think that the slogan was intended to hold such a ridiculous assertion. Balance—a synonym here used for "justice," intended to shine a little light on the first term, "fair"—anywhere other than on an old fashioned two-plate scale, doesn't require equality, it requires only "its due" or its just share. If 70 percent of the population hold one position and the others hold positions divided in 20 and 10 percent increments, balanced coverage is achieved by giving 70 percent of the consideration to the majority position, 20 percent to the second position, and 10 percent to the third. As seen in the studies of coverage in the past Presidental campaign, about 70 percent of the favorable coverage was given to the candidate favored by 47 percent of the population and only 30 percent given the candidate favored by 54 percent. This is of course what Fox wanted to address with its slogan. My opinion, of course, for what it's worth.

But there's an even more sinister dimension to Gabler's leftwing totalitarian assertion that "not all stories have two sides. I think balance is really, really dangerous and the good journalist knows the difference." Of course most stories have more than two sides but Gabler doesn't mean that, but rather the politically left approach to reporting, as we see it day by day in tens of thousands of stories in thousands of media outlets, is that most stories have a side that deserves the light of publication and other "sides" that should be hidden from the public or so caricatured that no "educated" reader or viewer would give it more than a passing dismissive thought. This perpetuation and defense of intentional imbalance is what I say is "really really dangerous" in a free society dependent on accurate information in order to make democratic decisions.

An example of radically blatant imbalanced reporting this year has been the reports about stem cell research and claims. Not only have significant facts been unreported or under-reported, but most of the reports I've seen have suppressed the qualifier that what is being advocated is not just "stem cell" research, but "embryonic stem cell research." Leaving out the word embryonic misleads the public, and leaving out the fact that these embryos will be created through human cloning procedures misleads it even farther. But the left has decided the possible gain over-rides any traditionalist concerns about the sacredness of human life. The less said on that topic, the better. Imbalance is just the ticket here. I think the victory for state support of "stem cell research" in the California November election was built on this particular misleading, less-than-accurate reporting.

There are many other areas in which leftwing media theorists like Gabler probably think it's better to report only one side of an issue. The Darwinian philosophy in the public school curricula is one that is given a free ride. The design theory approach to the origin of the universe and of life is referred to only in ridiculing terms, along with casting it as a struggle between "religion" and "science" rather than two approachs to science, in the vast majority of reporting on the struggle. Even the relatively conservative Wall Street Journal last week published a glowing review of a pro-Darwinian book because it was by a professor in a small university affiliated with a small evangelical denomination (the Church of the Narzarene). That review was widely reprinted, for obvious reasons (it supported the editors' and/or publishers' worldviews) while books like UC Berkeley Professor Phillip Johnson's, and former Chicago Tribune reporter Lee Strobel's, arguing for the scientific design theory approach, have been ignored in the so-called mainstream press.

Other targets that don't deserve "balanced" coverage (in the left's view): pro-life in general, and the fact that most Americans now oppose at least some of the now-legal abortion options in national polls; the moral arguments against homosexual "marriages"; the philosophical divide between naturalist secular humanists and theists in every realm of life from politics to education to psychology; the rights of the Boy Scouts to set their own agenda and qualifications for participation in their programs; the truth about voucher education, and on and on.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

*From the Greek: idiotes, an ignorant person.

Signs of our times

At the electric company: "We would be delighted if you send in your payment. However, if you don't, you will be."

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Advent thought for today

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

Calvin Coolidge  

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