Found myself resonating with this article, and was somewhat surprised at the source. I’ve never been a Ted Koppel/Nightline fan. Can’t remember ever watching a full show of it, even. However, what Koppel has to say here echoes why I rarely watch ANY news channel anymore. FoxNews calls itself “Fair and Balanced”, but I find it to be so hard-core Republican/right-wing that I’ve never been able to keep it on very long. On the other hand, CNN and the other news channels don’t do a good job of hiding their left-leaning. Despite their claim at a lack of bias, I find that Fox is at least a little more honest about their bias. However, I prefer to be able to hear both sides of an issue and make my own decisions about which side I find more persuasive.
I find the lack of a real international presence disturbing. How can I rely on the networks to accurately tell me how the people in these countries really feel if they have practically no experience or long-term connections in most of the countries where world-changing events seem to take place? Here are a couple of paragraphs that give you a taste:
And so, among the many benefits we have come to believe the founding fathers intended for us, the latest is news we can choose. Beginning, perhaps, from the reasonable perspective that absolute objectivity is unattainable, Fox News and MSNBC no longer even attempt it. They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and loyal viewers) at either end of the political spectrum would like it to be. This is to journalism what Bernie Madoff was to investment: He told his customers what they wanted to hear, and by the time they learned the truth, their money was gone.
On international bureaus:
The networks say they still maintain bureaus around the world, but whereas in the 1960s I was one of 20 to 30 correspondents working out of fully staffed offices in more than a dozen major capitals, for the most part, a “bureau” now is just a local fixer who speaks English and can facilitate the work of a visiting producer or a correspondent in from London.
I find it easiest to often just ignore the major news sources, and keep up with the world by reading postings from friends on both sides of the political debate on facebook. Honestly, though, there is a second side to my withdrawal from the audience of the various opinionated folks on my television. The more I walk with Christ, the more I feel like getting caught up in all of this politicized news and debate only distracts me from the work of the Kingdom. I get easily distracted by political debate, and too quickly forget about my personal responsibility and the work that I should be doing. I cannot allow myself to be dragged down like this.
Maybe there are some for whom this balance is not as difficult as it is for me. If so, then that is fine for them. For me, I miss the day when the facts were reported, and it was pretty easy to filter out the little bit of opinion and make up my mind. Sure, they chose what facts to report, but at least there was a sense of responsibility to offer up facts. Now, I can’t watch news without feeling the agenda. Either the news has lost its way, as Koppel seems to claim, or I’m just much more sensitive to this type of thing. Either way, I think I’ll maintain my distance from the mess for now.
Even the press during the American Revolution was partisan.. primarily pro-American. I think a key factor for the press is to be willing to be critical of those in power. This is one reason why I do watch Fox more than the other cable news sources because they do criticize the status quo… and, quite frankly, I’ve seen some pretty harsh criticism of even the “hard right” on there. In the mean time, I’m not a “kool-aid” drink and try to fact check and cross reference other sources to make sure I get a fuller picture. The point of “free press”, though, has always been to allow criticism of those in power. When a new outlet gets too friendly with those in power, then I get VERY suspicious. An antagonistic press is necessary to keep the politicians honest. My hope is that those on Fox that are antagonistic to the current government will continue to be antagonistic when that government changes. We shall see.
That said, I also agree that the earthly politics can way too easily distract us from the task at hand. As much as some of my more right friends don’t like it, there are times when I sound very left. As much as my more left friends don’t like it, there are times when I sound very right. But the thing is, neither right nor left nor Dem nor Rep nor conservative nor liberal has the FULL answer of what it will take to fix this messed up world. Democracy, monarchy, communism, capitalism, socialism… None of those has the answer. Ultimately, there is only one Kingdom that has the answer and, hey, even if the USA fragments into a bunch of different countries, even if there is some sort of massive revolution with a communist takeover, even if democracy wins in the end… you know, it doesn’t really matter. My job is to live the Kingdom life where ever I am, under whatever flag is over my head, and under whatever government happens to be raising that flag. The empty tomb is my hope, the cross is my path.
Thy Kingdom Come, Lord.
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