The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


So today I was driving to work and listening to the CBS radio news. One of the main stories at the 10 o'clock news hour was that it was Veteran's Day. There was some coverage of parades, and Bush's speech at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Then a reporter decided to take the pulse of veteran opinion. He did this in the time-honored way, with two soundbites of contrasting opinions.

One veteran was quoted as saying "No matter what your opinion on Iraq, you have to respect the soldiers who are over there."

The reporter then shifted points of view:


But this soldier at the Vietnam memorial was not sure that America should be in Iraq. "I'm not sure exactly what our business is for being over there."


There may have been more reportage, and I may not have the words exactly right, because I swore and turned off the radio.

I object to the stupid and stereotyped manner in which broadcast media present contentious matters of policy, as if there were exactly two sides to each issue and that the public were always divided 50-50 between them. It's like pretending that you can view a landscape by closing one eye, looking at it for a few seconds, and then moving to the opposite end and taking another quick view with your other eye.

I object to the way in which the media manipulates the "balanced" ritual of opposing viewpoints for their own ends. The reporter balanced one person saying that America should not have invaded Iraq with another person saying that regardless of our views, we should support the troops there.

I am thankful that I live in an age where the broadcast media are not my only choices. I can benefit from the efforts of myriad reporters, fact-checkers, and critics.


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