Talking heads and empty words

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

— Thomas Jefferson

Whether you happened to view Sunday’s episode of CBS “Sunday Morning” or not, I’m sure you have heard about the segment between veteran journalist Ted Koppel and Fox’s Sean Hannity — I was just about ready to change the channel and thought, “I’m going to see what transpires between the two of them.”

I’d like to say I was surprised but Hannity, as usual, interrupted Koppel while he was asking a question regarding his “brand,” or way of getting his point across; which to me is much like the way Rush Limbaugh practices — talking at people telling them what HE wants them to hear.

Hannity didn’t mince words when he says he is presenting his own conservative agenda. He is contributing to the increased antipathy toward opposing viewpoints which is highly prevalent in today’s America, unapologetically.

I’m sure you are aware by now the complete verbal bandying between the two of them, but it boils down to this: Hannity believes that the American people should be given credit to know the difference between an opinion and real news. However, Koppel believes that Hannity is well aware that he has attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.

Searching for ideology versus facts came into play in 1987 when Ronald Reagan and his appointed commissioners agreed that The Fairness Doctrine violated broadcasters’ First Amendment free speech rights by giving government a measure of control over stations. In addition, they claimed in phenomenally twisted arguments that it discouraged debates.

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was — in the Commission’s view — honest, equitable, and balanced.

The Fairness Doctrine encouraged diversity of opinion and a well-argued debate. Now instead of debate we now have “rant and rave” journalism on both sides of the aisle. The demise of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 brought Rush Limbaugh out of the woodwork, a conservative guy who talks rather loudly at you and if you happen to call in to his show and gave an excellent opposing view that he disagreed with, you were met with a dial tone and he usually went on a ten minute rant on how you were wrong without giving you a chance for a rebuttal.

I admit that when I was younger I tried to listen to Rush but the bile rising in my throat won out. I also gave Hannity, O’Reilly and Beck a chance and after five or 10 minutes I had to tune them out. I do however listen to Rachel Maddow, whom I know is well educated and has proven to me that she digs deep to get to the truth. I don’t always agree with her, but I trust her to be progressive.

A progressive agenda moves our country forward. A progressive mentality belief system has changed our country toward good with acts like the abolition of child labor, the liberation of women, universal free public education and the end of slavery to name a few definitely improves the human condition.

According to Nancy Holm, Limbaugh is woefully ignorant and wrong about many things but he is not stupid. His is a sadly wasted intelligence. A college dropout just after two semesters at Southeast Missouri State, Limbaugh has never subjected himself to the discipline of acquiring an education. He’s never committed himself to reading complex ideas, writing term papers, sitting through midterms or final exams, nor had to argue with people smarter than he is. In brief, he’s never been held accountable for his ideas, except from his enemies who he’s glibly dismissed as partisan.

Hannity, Limbaugh and Maddow are symbolic of a serious divided nation. Truthfully we don’t listen to the same newscasts, but I am sure we all are worried about our country due to the explosion in the availability of information has coincided with historic levels of political polarization — which has been the starkest/darkest since the early 20th century.

What we need is clear, undistorted presentation of facts, not propaganda news from either side. Clear coverage of important and controversial issues of interest in the communities in which we live is paramount so we don’t have to shovel through the fluff and alternative facts — we need accountability in journalism.

Cath Kestler is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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