Vail Daily letter: The media pawns
July 29, 2013
Re: "Race and the media," by Butch Mazzuca:
So what is so unique about the subject of race in the media? All social issues seem to receive an inordinate amount of media attention these days and all such subjects of consequence receive "undeniable bias by the media." The media has never been a "colorblind disseminator of fact-based information" on any controversial subject at any time in the history of our country. And we, the general populous, carry around an enormous amount of bias regarding every social issue. The media largely survives by fanning these biases. (Were I to suggest Fox News as a leader in this respect, I would undoubtedly be accused of bias!)
The challenge to legitimate discussion is less that bias exists in the media than that too many only absorb from the media those positions and so-called "facts" that support their own existing biases. Little or no effort is made by many, or even most, to consider and understand opposing points of view. Wall Street Journal readers eschew the New York Times and vice versa, dismissing incompatible points of view out of hand.
Unfortunately, given all the political intervention in our education system, many young Americans are growing up with little ability to think about and sort through differing points of view. They face an ever-increasing amount of inane chatter on Facebook, Twitter, etc., that provide little opportunity for thoughtful discourse. Too often discussion involves simply parroting what's been spouted on 24-hour news programs. Yes it is unfortunate that racism and other social issues have "been injected with politics, political correctness and … an undeniable bias by the media." Mazzuca shares quotes that support his point of view that the media primarily slanted their reporting in favor of Trayvon Martin. Unacknowledged in his commentary however, are those media sources that reported police reluctance to even investigate, shoddy police work and a great reluctance to indict Zimmerman. (Could Mazzuca's choice of media references possibly exhibit bias?)
Reference to the results of the useless Rasmussen survey contributes nothing to meaningful discourse on racism. It is simply a collection of racially biased opinions from a small, maybe random, segment of "Americans." Unfortunately for racists (most of us at some level), racism is simply a confirmation of superiority. Humans seem to need to better than others for self-esteem.
So yes, media bias is lamentable, but it is driven by greed money and politics. Social issues today are inflamed by politicians and their donors as an extremely effective tool to focus the electorate on emotional issues rather than real problems. The politicians take less heat from voters about giant subsidies, tax breaks for the rich and military spending if they can focus "we the people" on other things that have nothing to do with responsible governance. So let's not single out the media. They are primarily just pawns in the game of greed, money and politics.
James C. Risser
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