Volume 47, Number 15 - March 29, 2010

About the Reporter

Ernesto Ferris
Ernesto Ferris

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Opinion Opinion

Watch what you watch

By Ernesto Ferris

When you turn on the TV, you might catch a glimpse of protesters against the Obama administration holding caricatures of the cabinet. As you flip channels, you’ll see the description of these protestors go from “patriots” on FOX News’ The O’Reilley Factor to “wackos” on MSNBC’s Hard Ball, or “Tea Baggers” on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

All jokes aside, these terms can break or make opinions. It can influence a person’s values on topics and viewpoints. Why is it that we isolate a single spectrum to attain our own beliefs? They say that ignorance is bliss, but they also say we need the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The sad question is: how much do we really get from either side?

I’ve always been cautious of what I listen to and tend to be more of a neutral spectator. I’ve noticed both sides tend to cut parts that contradict their point.

Consider the trade of words between the liberal MSNBC and the conservative FOX News.

Like when MSNBC interviews only those who are totally in favor of universal healthcare, while FOX News montages clips of conservatives who never see the need for extra gubernatorial help.

The same goes for the manipulation of words. Calling gay rights activists “militant” and juxtaposing images of scantily-clad men in a gay pride parade is completely different from discussing “second class citizens” with imagery of gay/lesbian couples who can’t visit each other at the hospital. Does it surprise anyone that neither station is actually fair and balanced?

Half-truths are also a way to sway one person to a wing. FOX News has been doing it for years, with clip cutting to suit the occasion (however, that doesn’t mean CNN and MSNBC don’t do it either).
Although I tend to lean to the left, the bias on both sides has made me think twice about whom to trust, since half the time it’s more a shouting match between donkey and elephant.

Though it all, there are those who find the humor in it. For example, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, though comical in nature, actually pokes fun at both sides of the political spectrum. Certain other shows on the network have been demonstrated to be insightfully satirical, though they have been misconstrued as otherwise.

Jon Stewart, The Daily Show’s host, does a good job of pointing out faults on both sides. Interestingly enough, studies done by the Pew Research Study show that viewers of The Daily Show ranked highest in knowledge of current events.

One can’t really reach a true conclusion when they’re stuck in the media bubble. True fact comes from finding out information from both perspectives. Hopefully audiences will begin to read between the lines when they watch the news. Until then, I’ll be watching Comedy Central.

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