Texas This I Know...

Texas This I Know...
Texas Farm to Market Road

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Let Me Explain Sloowly....

David House has written a column in the Sunday Fort Worth Star Telegram in which he bemoans reader accusations of "liberal bias in the news." And can't figure out why someone would take offense at a certain headline. Perhaps I can enlighten him.

The first thing one has to remember about liberal bias is that it has been around for a long, long time. I can remember accusations of liberal bias, and hot discussions of same, on the old Star Text forums back in 1988. In those days, news people simply refused, monolithically, to acknowledge it. They either did not believe it, or they would not admit it, ever. They had defenders who took the same tack. Liberal bias? What liberal bias? That message was delivered in a "How Dare You! You Troglodyte!" tone that fairly dripped with contempt. Then they would go back to printing stories with the same slant, from the left. And making editorial decisions that emphasized the liberal point of view. And grinning behind their typewriters, we suspected.

It is well known that if you take a small, thin stick and use it to lightly tap someone across the back in the same place, over, and over, many thousands of time, it will create a throbbing, painful wound on that person's body.

This is what has happened to many readers. Each left leaning story printed, each repressed (spiked) story that would have given balance, was like a tap from a small stick on the same place in the reader's psyche, over, and over. Eventually the reader developed this pulsing, throbbing wound that is VERY sensitive to liberal bias and contempt. Some have gotten to the point where they no longer distinguish between spoken and written words. Therefore newspapers get blamed for what is said, and shown on TV.

They pick up on contempt where you would not be able to see it. Which brings me to an explaination of why the headline "Washington scrambles to prepare for a Ronald Reagan-style farewell" was seen as liberal bias and contempt by some readers.

The word "scrambles" has negative connotations. When someone scrambles they do so without preparation, in a hurry, without thinking, higgledy-piggledy, seat-of the-pants, and most of all, incompetent. The headline writer may not have meant to say that at all, but the reader's wound tells him otherwise. He knows only a liberal would put the word "scramble" in a headline that referenced Ronald Reagan's funeral.

Then there's "Ronald Reagan-style farewell." The reader asks, "Just what exactly is meant by "Ronald Reagan-style farewell"? He doesn't know what it means, but having already been put on notice by "scrambles" it must also be in the same vein. So he gets mad at that too.

The headline that would have been less offensive if it had said "Washington bustles to prepare for Ronald Reagan's funeral", or "Washington hurriedly prepares for Ronald Reagan's funeral", or"Washington beehive of activity in preparation for Ronald Reagan's funeral", or simply "Washington prepares for Ronald Reagan's funeral". That last headline was a plain statement of fact that could not have been challenged.

The error, of course, is that the original headline was too open to interpretation. Too nuanced. Which is something, we know, a sneaky liberal would do.

We have been trying to tell you that the house was on fire for a long time. Now it has burned down and will have to be rebuilt. So far though, it looks like you all are still living in the shell but can't won't see the damage.

Here's a test. Monitor your reaction to these suggestions because it will tell you a lot about yourself.


Here goes...

For each article you reprint from the New York Times, print one from the Washington Times.

Every time you print a Reuters news story about the Middle East, corroborate it with a few other Middle Eastern news sources. Real news sources now, not the BBC!

We don't ask that you be biased in favor of our point of view. Just that you print the facts, all of 'em. Not just the ones that support your notion of the way things ought to be.


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