Fair and Balanced

I’m a busy guy and, while I’m interested in news and politics and would like to keep up with them, I’ve got other priorities. Accordingly, I’m always in danger of being over-credulous of what I do hear on the news (my primary news source being, ahem, The Daily Show). My mom and I have hashed this out before, and not (I think) without hurt feelings. Because I latched onto whatever liberal propaganda seemed probably at the time to be right, she accused me of not thinking critically. And because she bought whatever the Bush propaganda bureau spat out and smirked openly at any other input as part of the liberal media’s nefarious plot to turn the world into a bunch of Jesus-hating abortionists, I thought her view was a little narrow as well. (It’s vaguely possible that my recollection of her approach has been colored somewhat by a bruised ego at having my critical thinking skills questioned, whether or not I had, in this particular instance, showed myself to be in possession of an abundance of such skills.)

There is a difference, after all, between monitoring news sources oriented toward the opposite political spectrum than your own for the sake of being able to find a middle-ground approaching the truth and doing so for the sake of sneering at the sources and rejecting out of hand anything they have to say because there happens to be a Bush propaganda bureau come-back posted on the Freepers board. Maybe it’s not fair of me to suggest that anybody actually does this, or at any rate intends to do this.

Lucky for those of us short on time and patience, a purportedly non-partisan watchdog organization has emerged to call both parties to the carpet for their disinformation campaigns this year. Spinsanity today has featured such headlines as the following:

  • Cheney’s not-so-Freudian slips
  • From technically true to blatantly false
  • The myth of Kerry knowingly volunteering for dangerous duty lives on
  • The phony attack on Bush’s stem cell research “ban”

The first two items note some pretty blatant propaganda efforts on behalf of the Bush administration. The last two describe ways in which the Kerry campaign is at best equivocating and at worst exploiting a misunderstanding about Kerry’s war record. Everybody’s guilty, and nobody’s spared. This seems an ideal way of keeping track of who’s playing what tricks during this year’s campaign. It’s a way of getting (apparently) non-partisan information without having to stay tuned in to six networks with varying political affiliations in order to filter out the noise and have a halfway decent chance at evaluating the candidates based on their merits rather than on what lies the other side happens to be telling about them.

I rather doubt anything I read at Spinsanity is going to change my mind about whom I’m voting for. It’d take a pretty big piece of dug-up dirt to do that. But reading the headlines does make me feel a little better about my level of credulity, as if I’m doing at least a little diligence rather than voting for one guy (who may or may not be a douchebag) because I happen to think based on the Jesus-hating, abortionist-cultivating liberal media’s spin that the other guy is a clod and a menace to polite civilization.

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