Saturday, May 19, 2007

song of the day

heck, it is one of my favorite songs of all time.

But seriously, ex-Sen./ex-AG John Ashcroft may have been a terrible senator and terrible Attorney General, but at least he can sing:

back in town

Thank you to the two outstanding local bloggers that offered to keep this ship afloat while I study for the Bar. Unfortunately, I only have one of your email addresses (because it was publicly available) so only one of you has been invited to guest blog so far.

I had a great trip and I was amazed I handled my internet withdrawal as well as I did. I would put up pictures but we accidentally left the camera in my parents car when they picked us up from the airport.

Anyway, I wanted to write today about my motto and AW's problems with it. "Truth over balance" is in reference to the fact that many times, in fact most times these days, reporters seek to "balance" their story by giving equal play to two sides, when they instead could easily find an objective reality. Now it is true that the truth is complicated, and some times relative but I would rather delve into that then listen to spin, be it from the left or right. And further, some times there is more than just a left and a right way to view something.

The truth used to come out via balance, but reporters have been slow to adapt to a new no-holds-bar environment that started when Bill Clinton came to the swamp. DC pols became so caught up in winning that they really couldn't care less about lying or distorting facts. In fact, more bold the spin, the better the press secretary was perceived by pols and reporters. Rather than create a era of civility [by "changing the tone in Washington"], the Bush Presidency brought the spin to a high art and new low. Dick Cheney goes on TV and while not literally lying, he creates such a distorted view of reality that you wonder what all those heart medications are doing to him.

Other adversarial system are able to get at the truth much better than the journalistic "balance" story. In a court of law, for example, the rules of evidence don't allow for a simple "he-said-she-said" unless that is all that is there. Perjury, slander, etc. are prosecuted; victim's and defendant's have rights to avoid topics that will bias the jury unfairly; prosecutors and defense attorneys cannot say whatever they want in their opening and closings; and all witnesses are subject to cross examination that they have to answer, not softballs or evasive answers.

Conventional journalism has not adapted to the last 20 years of evolving tactics of public relations. Bloggers like myself have attempted to fill in this void, not by seeking balance, but by seeking the truth. Who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the press? Why? Who is responsible for the WMD's lie? Who is responsible for firing 8-10 US Attorneys? Why were they fired? Why is the government illegally wiretapping our phone calls without a FISA warrant? Why did we go to war with Iraq? Why are we trying to go to war with Iran? Why are we torturing people? Who exactly is in GitMo? Why are we ignoring Afghanistan and Pakistan and Somalia and Sudan and Israel and Palestine? Why are people trying to teach creationism in school? Why are people trying to teach children that America is a Christian nation and that the Bible is as much of a constitutional source as the Federalist Papers?

These are the questions that bloggers have sought to ask and answer. Other bloggers have critiqued articles and stories and headlines of media bias, for and against conservatives. But to say that the current MSM system is working is to ignore objective reality. It took years before the media stopped being afraid of Bush to actually critically examine his policies. It took blogger prodding to get Scooter Libby convicted, and for the US Attorney purge to get investigated by Congress.

I wish I could just go back to dreaming up good policies, debating with people, supporting candidates, and studying law, but the media have gotten too cozy with those in power and as a citizen, I can't stand by and watch the US piss away its prestige and power for the glory and profit of the few. I have to speak up.