Toxic livers vs. toxic minds
May 12, 2004 10:34 PM   Subscribe

Reading With the Enemy - "Inspired by Supersize Me: What if you spent one month reading, listening to, and watching only right-wing media. No New York Times, no NPR, no network news, no CNN, no lefty blogs, no liberal novels. Nothing left-wing or centrist, and nothing ‘objective.’ Nothing that makes up the world you currently inhabit."
posted by Space Coyote (58 comments total)

 
Interesting. I never made it past anger.

"I know the Right better now, and my immersion will serve me well. Their strategies are seamless, powerful, and worth imitating. Like a well-oiled machine, the Right coordinates messages hourly across all its holdings: media, government, non-profits, and foundations. When the 60 minutes are up, America hears the same words, phrases, themes echoed from Web sites, newspapers, radio hosts, think tanks, senators, the president, and all the people in between. To the politically undecided or ignorant, this orchestrated effort can drown out the more haphazard messages from the Left side of the divide."
posted by muckster at 11:04 PM on May 12, 2004


For a few weeks, I substituted the Doug Wright show here in Utah for Diane Rehm. Doug would probably fall only a bit right of centrist, and has objective moments, so it probably doesn't count, but even so, I missed NPR way too much. Especially Diane.

If I were trapped in Limbaugh land, I would probably do what I did when I used to visit LGF -- get trapped in hopeless arguments. I think that's an exercise almost anyone here should try -- spend a few weeks on a weblog whose political leanings are very different from your own. For extra credit, do it without making enemies or calling anyone names. It will leave you with a greater appreciation for some of MeFis pariahs.
posted by weston at 11:09 PM on May 12, 2004


I've tried this several times. it SUCKS!
posted by mcsweetie at 11:33 PM on May 12, 2004


Perhaps I play devil's advocate here too often, but it should be said that it's entirely possible to be cocooned on the left. And I've known people that are.

I have different reactions to being immersed in biased viewpoints depending upon whether they are sympathetic or opposed to my own. In both cases, though, I find the situation deeply unpleasant. The right-wing bias tends to deeply disgust and anger me—Limbaugh's comment about the Abu Ghraib torture being like a fraternity hazing a prime example. The left-wing bias makes me very sad and frustrated. Either way, for me, it's something like drowning.

It's like drowning because without a consuming desire for truth, without intellectual discipline and without radical self-doubt, being right is mostly an accident of circumstance, a bit-flip from being wrong. Abu Ghraib demonstrates, yet again, that being on the "right" side counts for little if you didn't get there for the right reasons, and in the right way. One minute we're the good guys, the next we're torturers. Willful confirmation bias is the deadliest moral poison.

There is nothing more frightening to me than the sociopolitical echo chamber. From it comes the lynch mob, and you will know them best by their crimes, not by their flag.
Their strategies are seamless, powerful, and worth imitating.”—Oliver Griswold
...calls to mind:
Whoever battles monsters should take care not to become a monster too, for if you stare long enough into the Abyss, the Abyss stares also into you.”—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:48 PM on May 12, 2004


I've tried this several times. it SUCKS!

Yeah me too. I've been kicked from Free Republic several times for asking honest questions... "trolling" is what they call it I think.

I've also subscribed to various conservative mailing lists, including Ditto-Head, creationist and Fox News lists.

Every time I've tried to expose myself to the other side I've gotten an horrible ache in my tummy. It's just something about hanging out with the wrong crowd that causes me a lot of anxiety I guess.

That... and they are all a bunch of fucking dumbasses.
posted by wfrgms at 12:41 AM on May 13, 2004


The best part of this is his fantastic take on "liberal media bias". If the media being "liberal" means that it's broad-minded, unbigoted, and willing to cover a diverse range of viewpoints...then isn't that exactly what we want? Who would be opposed to that? Obviously only people wanting a bland, unchallenging existence.
posted by Jimbob at 2:03 AM on May 13, 2004


Bleh. What's the point of this, beyond a "I'm right, you're wrong" shooting-fish-in-the-barrel exercise. I'd feel just as claustrophobic if I was confined to NPR, CNN, NYT, etc., for a month. They all have their *own* agendas; and the liberal monoculture would get to me just as much as the conservative one.
posted by carter at 3:53 AM on May 13, 2004


I've gotten into this very, very bad habit of listening to conservative talk radio on the drive home from work...Michael Savage is by far the most disgusting representative of the human race I have ever heard, except for the people who call into his show...they were having a serious discussion - and I mean serious - about how, after the Nick Berg tape was released, that the US should just nuke Iraq (cause, you know, those brown-skinners are all the same) as a lesson for all other countries. And I honestly don't think they were exaggerating.

But the thing that caught my attention, and I've heard of this before but never really caught on to it myself, is that they all say the EXACT SAME THING! Right down to the same wording. It's like they all are handed a playbook at the beginning of the day to read from. They're all just absolute parrots of each other, not an original thought in the whole time I was listening. And I realized that's why conservative commentators are so successful: they play to an audience that already shares the same thoughts and who feel validated and reinforced in their beliefs when what they believe to begin with is repeated over and over from an 'authority' figure over the radio (suppose that explains the whole Dittohead thing, but I never really came to that revelation myself, which puts it in a whole new perspective - reinforcement of belief is very powerful). Just repeat the same thing often enough and it will become truth, I suppose
posted by batboy at 5:08 AM on May 13, 2004


carter, here's what I don't get about that CNN/NYT perspective: what have they done that's defined as "left-wing agenda?" The Xenophobic villification of a chinese scientist? The mutual support along with every other news source of the president following 9/11? The nealry-unwavering support of Israel's side of any issue in the Middle East Crisis? Being once owned by a guy married to Jane Fonda?

What? What is it that CNN or the Times, or anything beyond PBS and NPR, does that identifies them as having a left-wing agenda?

That's where the silliness comes in: there's no consistency here. Fox News devotees long ago dropped the "fair and balanced" schtick when they realized no one bought it; now the line is "well we NEED this, you liberals have all those other stations!" Do we? I don't see any news broadcasts arguing the merits of Campaign Finance Reform, or abortion rights, or gun control, or any "risky" issue, which tends to delve into the realm of "risky" meaning "mostly liberals support it." A quick search at FreeRepublic would likely reveal that every newspaper, TV station, publishing company, and website not owned and regulated by Rupert Murdoch has a "left-wing bias."

The fault of the right-wingers, "left-wing bias" has become the catch-all defenition of ANYTHING to the left of a view supportive of conservatives. Ridiculously, this means rational, intelligent people somehow think the New York Times has a liberal agenda.

Actual "left-wing" media is just as intolerable as right-wing: the Village Voice has about three pages of quality content, some good cartoons, and a hundred pages of dreck usually related to sex and how every cop in New York hates black people. The New York Times isn't a bastion of the Communist Front because they hire Paul Krugman.

The agenda of almost every newspaper and TV station in the country is to make money. This is done by distributing the media. As opposed to the Voice and NPR, which is free/under subsidy of sorts, cable news and newspapers need to be desirable to be absorbed. If the New York Times actually has a "liberal agenda," then conservatives should be more worried about all the liberals happily buying it than the fact that the Times Company is providing what all those apparent godless Commies want to see.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:20 AM on May 13, 2004


Liberal a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

Conservative a. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

b. Traditional or restrained in style.

c. Moderate; cautious.


I can live with those definitions. Can the wing nuts and bushwhackers?
posted by nofundy at 5:30 AM on May 13, 2004


Nicely put Ethereal Bligh. You can not be sure of your own position until you test it against the opposing position. While there are a lot of conservatives who spew preprogrammed conservative bile (Rush?) there are others who provide thoughtful commentary from the conservative side: Andrew Sullivan, William Safire and David Brooks come to mind. I may not often agree with them, but their usually well reasoned positions make me examine my opposing beliefs more thoroughly. Unfortunately, the mass market appeal, conservative, dogma from Fox News, Rush and the like usually eschews reasoning and instead reads from the anti-liberal playbook as described in Mr. Griswold's article.
posted by caddis at 5:44 AM on May 13, 2004


nofundy, for a good laugh, match those definitions with the Canadian political parties of the same names.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 5:45 AM on May 13, 2004


They all have their *own* agendas; and the liberal monoculture would get to me just as much as the conservative one.
There isn't a liberal monoculture, and the fact that an overwhelming number of daily Republican talking points make it into the NYT, CNN, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc prove it. If there was a whole, concerted, united, liberal establishment feeding news to the mainstream media mentioned above daily, and limiting the talking points like the outlets this guy read and listened to, then you'd have a point.

What would have been interesting to hear from this guy was what he didn't learn about, and what wasn't mentioned, or what was made out to be nothing, as Rush and Hannity and FOX etc did about the prison torture (saying it was just harmless fun, or blowing off steam), etc.

Wasn't there just a study that showed that FOX viewers believe many things that just aren't true--like Saddam being responsible for 9/11?
posted by amberglow at 6:08 AM on May 13, 2004


Heh heh. Convoluted Canadians, eh?

Caddis, surely you jest when speaking of Andy, Will and David as being "well-reasoned." Many in the business of journalistic ethics and accountability strongly disagree.
posted by nofundy at 6:13 AM on May 13, 2004


Allow me to make one point that is often missed in these conversations about the media.

It is not the political party who controls the winger media outlets but the corporate entities who control the message that the political party adheres to. An important difference regarding who is the puppet and whom is the puppet master.
posted by nofundy at 6:17 AM on May 13, 2004


Perhaps I play devil's advocate here too often, but it should be said that it's entirely possible to be cocooned on the left. And I've known people that are.

[sarcasm]

Really, you think? I've never run into anyone like that.

[/sarcasm]

Actually, I think people are missing what O'Reilly and those people are really about: preaching to the choir. Watching those shows (or listening to Air America, to be fair) is like going to a sports bar where you know everybody roots for the same team. You can spout off all you want and not have to risk being confronted with someone who sees things differently from you. We all do it.


Actual "left-wing" media is just as intolerable as right-wing: the Village Voice has about three pages of quality content, some good cartoons, and a hundred pages of dreck usually related to sex and how every cop in New York hates black people.

True enough. But you forgot the Personal Ads which are usually good for a chuckle fit as well.

But the biggest problem, to me, with all this media, and the people who follow it, is that people seem to see "evil intent" behind differing opinions: that fiscal conservatives secretly are planning corporate takeovers of the universe or that pro-gay rights people really want to rape the paperboy. They're just people who have a different idea of what's best for the world. Debate on the merits and may the best man win. But political opinions often spring from deeply held beliefs or hard-won experience so that can be hard to do.

there are others who provide thoughtful commentary from the conservative side: Andrew Sullivan, William Safire and David Brooks come to mind. I may not often agree with them, but their usually well reasoned positions make me examine my opposing beliefs more thoroughly

exactly. Judging conservatives by watching Limbaugh and O'Reilly is like judging liberalism from Democratic Underground or the Village Voice. But those guys caddis mentioned are thoughtful people and I've even on occasion found myself agreeing with them. And I generally respect them.
posted by jonmc at 6:39 AM on May 13, 2004


We mostly all see things not aws they are but as we are...
posted by Postroad at 6:43 AM on May 13, 2004


The NYT is a shit rag. They have more conservatives than liberals on their editorial pages, and the liberals they do have (with the exception of Paul Krugman) are idiots like Maureen Dowd who half the time gets tricked into parroting GOP talking points regarding John Kerry's hair or Howard Dean's 'odd' marriage to an 'odd' woman....

Not to mention that 2 or 3 times a week they publish frontpage hatchet jobs by David Halbfinger on Kerry and his wife that would make the Washington Times proud...
posted by crank at 7:14 AM on May 13, 2004


Actual "left-wing" media is just as intolerable as right-wing: the Village Voice has about three pages of quality content, some good cartoons, and a hundred pages of dreck usually related to sex and how every cop in New York hates black people. The New York Times isn't a bastion of the Communist Front because they hire Paul Krugman.

This is worth repeating. If you really want to see a left-wing media echo chamber, pick up alt-weeklies for a month or two. I don't know how anybody writes for those things more than twice without being reduced to a shriveled husk. What was the latest headline I saw... how local Ethiopian businessmen were being forced out of their digs so the city could build a... school! O what base villainy, whose bountiful muck we must rake... I'm supposed to be against a new school? So lost.

But the cartoons are good!
posted by furiousthought at 7:33 AM on May 13, 2004


pick up alt-weeklies for a month or two.

Oh yeah the alt-weekly. Usually free, and worth every penny.
posted by jonmc at 7:37 AM on May 13, 2004


I try to get media from various outlets, including those that would be considered right-wing as well as those that are considered seriously leftist. Both have an agenda, it just so happens that I agree more with one side than the other. But, because I live in the heart of Republican, Christian, fundamentalist white-picket, Stepford hell, I make it a point to know what my neighbors are being fed...media-wise.

I'm actually fairly moderate on most issues. I lean towards the left on some, and towards the right on some. For instance, I'm a financial conservative...I firmly believe in small government, individual freedom, and the right to live your life unmolested by the policy wonks. 50 years ago, I would have been a Republican. Now...not so much. Because the Republicans have thrown away those values and have instead embraced a theocratic notion of big brother that I find entirely too cloying and spooky.

But, because I support a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion, and because I believe "freedom of speech zones" are a direct violation of the Constitution, and because I think God shouldn't be encoded into our legal system, and because I have opposed the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq and the privatizing of our military, my neighbors would turn me in to the secret police in a heartbeat. For instance, when it was discovered that I opposed the war in Iraq, my son and I were politely asked to not come to the Mommy and Me playgroup, as they didn't want "people who were anti-American around their children." Swear to god, those were the exact words.

I've had neighbors tell me that I'm a traitor because I don't support the war. I've had neighbors tell me that they don't want their kids playing with my son because we don't go to church on Sunday and they figure we're Atheists, Goths, or Jews...and either way, they want nothing to do with our baby-eating ways.

When the war started, and everyone in this neighborhood but us put flags on their SUVs, and hung them from the houses...despite the fact that I was the only one with family and friends in the military, they were so offended that we didn't have a flag displayed that every couple of days, someone would come plant a plastic flag in our yard. On the subsequent mornings, it was like seeing a swastika painted on the door, because by implication, I wasn't "enough" of an American to please them.

When the news about the prison photos broke, one of the neighbors said "Well, I bet this makes *you* happy." As though I would be thrilled that people were tortured as long as it made the current regime look bad. Like my ethics are that flexible..."oh, well...torture bad...unless it makes the leader look like an ass...then it's ok." Good lord.

So, I've done my time with the right-wing. His little month of reading is nothing compared to my 4 years of living in the middle of it.
posted by dejah420 at 8:06 AM on May 13, 2004


Regarding the alt-weekly thing:

What was the last time you saw *every* alt-weekly parroting the same stories, using the same language?

What was the last time you read an issue of an alt-weekly that didn't have dozens of letters from loyal readers writing in to say how stupid such-and-such article was, or to correct the specifics?

V
posted by vaca at 8:07 AM on May 13, 2004


I do not know about you folks but peter Jennings drives me absolutely batty with his batty eyes and snaky remarks. And for petes sake the mans diction makes Brokaw seem like, well. enough about opinion, lets get onto the real story behind this story.
endurance.
posted by clavdivs at 8:17 AM on May 13, 2004


Damn, Deja. That's just...icky. Damn. It reminds me of when I lived in Amarillo, which is Hell on Earth. God, I hate that fucking town, and most of its fucking people. Being that this is Texas, would you have been within your rights to shoot someone trespassing to place a little flag in your yard? Maybe just a warning shot?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:24 AM on May 13, 2004


For instance, when it was discovered that I opposed the war in Iraq, my son and I were politely asked to not come to the Mommy and Me playgroup, as they didn't want "people who were anti-American around their children."

Holy shit.


What makes the Right Wing Media so insidious is its ability to frame the issues. This week, I've heard one talk show host after another (bad habit, I know) have a long discussion about whether the media was irresponsible in releasing the pictures. That's what they wanted the story to be about. Even if you disagree with the hosts' position (unanimously anti-CBS, shocker) that still leaves you not talking or thinking about the actual torture or its ramifications. I hate those bastards.


Michael Savage is so over-the-top shocking I find myself at times wondering if he's doing satire and at other times very scared that someone like him (without hyperbole, nazi-like; he rants about liberals and "perverts" and implies they should be killed while sometimes saying "I'm on the air, so I'm not allowed to say what I really want to") is on the air and that he has so many callers who agree with him.
posted by callmejay at 8:27 AM on May 13, 2004


Liberal media.... Conservative media... like XQUZYPHYR said, it's all about advertising money.

The parent corporations of Fox News, CNN, NBC, etc, don't determine that their news outlets should be conservative or liberal just for politics sake... all of these networks spend BIG money and a lot of time doing extensive research on just WHO is watching their network. They collect, sort, analyze, project... and then their Sales force goes to the ad agencies and says, "These are the people who are watching us. Buy commercial time on our network and this is who will see your add."

So, if Fox News has discovered that mainly conservatives are watching their networks, and they've sold a ton of ad time to advertisers who want that conservative viewer... the LAST thing they can do is run a piece with a liberal viewpoint or slant that causes their conservative viewers to get pissed off and change the channel. If people turn off the network, their demos suffer and they haven't given the advertiser what they promised. Showing an opposing viewpoint literally costs them money.

The sad part of all this is the fact that most people just don't want to hear something that contradicts what they THINK they already know. They don't want news... they want comforting reassurance that they are right. Which is unfortunately what some of these networks have become.
posted by BobFrapples at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2004


And NPR news also has to make money, via member stations in their pledge drives; and they will tailor their content to the audience niche that they know will be pledging, and refrain from having news/alternate points of view that run the risk of upsetting that audience. I don't mind them doing that, as I don't have to listen to it and I usually don't; I'm just tired of liberals treating NPR news as the voice of reason compared with rabid conservatives, when in fact NPR news itself is rabidly pursuing a path of smug blandness.

It's kind of interesting that this guy loves being in 'liberal' Boulder, where 89% of the population identifies as white, and where house prices are 20-30% higher than the surrounding counties because of the 'desirable lifestyle' the place has to offer; a nice homogeneous gated liberal community indeed, albeit with plenty of Howard Dean bumper stickers around.
posted by carter at 9:06 AM on May 13, 2004


Dejah420,
I hear you girl.
I'm right there myself.
Its not that I chose my path, I was driven there by the wing nut fools.
I didn't change, local popular political opinion and the media did.

Carter,
If you listened to NPR you would learn they have their fair share of bushwhacking whores too.
posted by nofundy at 9:17 AM on May 13, 2004


You can spout off all you want and not have to risk being confronted with someone who sees things differently from you. We all do it.

I don't. Mind telling me where these liberal echo chambers are? I don't think I really want to go live in one, but it might be an interesting place to visit every now and then.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:21 AM on May 13, 2004


nofundy - 'bushwhacking whores' sounds funny, but I don't know what it means ;) ... Mars - Boulder. And it is interesting to visit.
posted by carter at 9:36 AM on May 13, 2004


I would assume it has something to do with the slang term 'whack off', ie 'manually stimulate'.
I guess the spigot of invective is running a little dry.
posted by darukaru at 9:59 AM on May 13, 2004


The sad part of all this is the fact that most people just don't want to hear something that contradicts what they THINK they already know. They don't want news... they want comforting reassurance that they are right. Which is unfortunately what some of these networks have become.

This is by far the most important aspect of the entire political and cultural debate, rapidly emphasized by the advent of warblogging. I firmly believe so much of the "polarization" of the opposing sides of the war/election is based on large groups of people on both sides devoted to being right, far above their priority than choosing what is truly the right thing to do. The entire Fox News attitude, just by examining their press statements and overall treatment of other media sources, seems to be so much more about pissing off "the liberals" than actually objectively analyzing the news. (Case in point, that story last week about suing to put up an anti-CNN billboard. This is a news organization. Think about that.)

Meanwhile, we have a president and a Secretary of Defense who now take pride in not reading the newspaper. That choosing right-wing over left-wing has now devolved into choosing to be willingly ignorant over willingly informed is far more dangerous for the slant that American media is taking. It's striking how one of the things this nation shares with third-world terrorist nations is the willing desire to be as simple-minded as possible.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:10 AM on May 13, 2004


Another thing we're not getting--from either the rightwing media or the regular media--is that 34 soldiers have already been killed so far in May alone. I haven't seen one story on that since the prison thing broke. Many of us may want to be more informed, but have to depend on a broken media on all sides (which knew about the prison abuse since January, but didn't bother to investigate it or anything).
posted by amberglow at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2004


It's kind of interesting that this guy loves being in 'liberal' Boulder, where 89% of the population identifies as white, and where house prices are 20-30% higher than the surrounding counties because of the 'desirable lifestyle' the place has to offer; a nice homogeneous gated liberal community indeed, albeit with plenty of Howard Dean bumper stickers around.

Boulder is the type of place that gives conservatives a big fat target to shoot at. For all the reasons you mentioned. Sadly, what goes on there is "lifestyle liberalism" rather than any actual real effort toward changing anything.
posted by jonmc at 10:28 AM on May 13, 2004


Mind telling me where these liberal echo chambers are?

Try Common Dreams or BartCop.

Common Dreams is as close to an "echo chamber" as I have seen for the "left". It gets really old, really fast, in my opinion. However, after a steady barrage of right-wing themed media, it's reassuring to know that there really are people out there in the mainstream US media offering another side of the story.

My complaint is, for all of the hand-wringing over the "mighty Wurlitzer" (right-wing propoganda), CD is similar in that they latch on to a theme and run it into the ground. It can be fairly argued that the authors they are reprinting are the ones doing the glomming, but as their masthead runs across the top of the page they're getting the grief.
posted by ethmar at 10:50 AM on May 13, 2004


It would be interesting to do an experiment and find two people with diametrically opposed reading/viewing/listening/Web browsing tastes and make them switch for a month or something.

Other than that, I think the idea shows a Brilliant Grasp of the Blindingly Obvious--lots of people's tastes in media are shaped by their political views! My God! I SMELL PULITZER!!!!!!!

The idea of "liberal monoculture" is insane. All the so-called "liberal" newspapers in the US have self-identified conservative editorial columnists on their staffs, whereas [b]none[/b] of the conservative papers I have read (and I've read a lot) have self-identified liberal columnists on staff.

Imagine Richard Mellon Scaife running Molly Ivins's column in one of his publications. Hell, even the Wall Street Journal doesn't run editorials that take a liberal perspective.

And is the state of Colorado, as a whole, less than 89% "white"? If not, why single out Boulder as hypocritical? Just asking.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:52 AM on May 13, 2004


Yes, there are some "echo chambers" on the left. However, they get way less play and corporate support than the ones on the right.

Also, imagine the Common Dreams folks being taken as seriously on Fox News as Matt Drudge is on CNN.

Just imagine it.

Did you burst out laughing yet?
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:54 AM on May 13, 2004


Yes you're right, Colorado is generally white. From census.gov: Colorado state: 92%; Boulder county: 95% white. Denver county is 80% white. But I wasn't so much making a comment that Boulder is 'whiter,' but that the writer of the article seemed to think it some kind of liberal paradise.
posted by carter at 11:14 AM on May 13, 2004


the title- Reading with the Enemy- Nasty.

that's a bad precedent to set. it's framing a clash of ideas as a war. really buying into the whole 'war metaphor' thing that the conservatives like so much. Which i think is evil and insidious, just to be clear.
posted by Miles Long at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2004


Quote of the week: It's striking how one of the things this nation shares with third-world terrorist nations is the willing desire to be as simple-minded as possible. - XQUZYPHYR
posted by caddis at 11:29 AM on May 13, 2004


Amarillo, which is Hell on Earth. -Ethereal Bligh

Yeah...only El Paso is worse, I think...and at least in El Paso, you can get good Mexican food.

Another thing we're not getting--from either the rightwing media or the regular media--is that 34 soldiers have already been killed so far in May alone. I haven't seen one story on that since the prison thing broke.

MSNBC is keeping a running tally. Keep in mind that names only get added only after their official release by the military.

That choosing right-wing over left-wing has now devolved into choosing to be willingly ignorant over willingly informed is far more dangerous for the slant that American media is taking. - XQUZYPHYR

Amen to that. I can't believe that the POTUS is proud of not reading. That scares the bejebuz outta me.
posted by dejah420 at 11:34 AM on May 13, 2004


Actually, judging from what I've read and seen about it, supposedly Vidor is the most right-wing city in Texas if not the whole country.

But I wasn't so much making a comment that Boulder is 'whiter,' but that the writer of the article seemed to think it some kind of liberal paradise.

Colorado seems to be a sort of liberal Texas, if this author's picture of Boulder, and Ted Conover's classic skewering of Aspen, Whiteout are to be believed. Or maybe they're just Colorado's latte towns.

To tell the truth, spending too much time in either the Vidors of Boulders of the world would make most people wanna run screaming, I'd imagine.
posted by jonmc at 11:54 AM on May 13, 2004


I love how this post and its subsequent comments blithely assume that everyone here is left-wing or "progressive" in the first place. Where's the sympathy for those of us right-wingers who had to grow up with the NY Times, CNN, the Village Voice, NPR, and the like as our only media window on the world--not because we were trying some noble experiment, but because that's all we knew and all we had access to?

No wonder so many of us started blogs...
posted by Asparagirl at 12:02 PM on May 13, 2004


You know you're in a Latte Town when you can hop right off a bike path, browse in a used bookstore with shelves and shelves of books on Marxism that the owner can no longer get rid of, and then drink coffee at a place with a punnish name before sauntering through an African drum store or a feminist lingerie shop.

Sounds like Boulder to me; thanks for the link! You have to add something about Tibetan refugees, and craft fairs where you can buy those stripey Peruvian pill box hats, though ;)
posted by carter at 12:28 PM on May 13, 2004


Yeah me too. I've been kicked from Free Republic several times for asking honest questions... "trolling" is what they call it I think.

I know the feeling well.

Actually I'm now getting an understanding here of what makes an American a liberal - it seems to be a reaction against all the staunch conservative media (or so it would seem) and rightwing conservatives in general. Ask an American liberal why they are a liberal, and they go on and on about what they hate about conservatives/right-wingers.

In the UK, it's become much less polarised (going almost the opposite way to the US) - most people here can't see much difference between the two parties (labour/conservative), and neither parties really have any strong values one way or another - whatever catches the most votes becomes the flavour of the month in the UK.

If anything though, the UK media make much fun out of things like political correctness and affirmative action policies and are quick to provoke the xenophobe in everyone with their scare stories of asylum seekers (always big news here). The media is generally leaning to the right (IMO). Leftism/socialism has slowly become marginalised (often ridiculed by highlighting "loony" stories of mad bureaucracy/PCism), and replaced with a kind of "moderate" view, not one which I'd consider "rightwing" in the traditional sense.

I understand the US is completely different, however.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:40 PM on May 13, 2004


Right wing/Left wing...It doesn't really matter much to me. I'm really just sick and tired of the lack of true investigative journalism anymore.

Seems like it's pretty easy for the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Coulters, and O'Riellys of the world to armchair quarterback on news and politics but jeez how about a real story with facts and in depth coverage for a change?
posted by aaronscool at 12:58 PM on May 13, 2004


latte towns - one for me please! Austin used to be like that...and there are still vestiges of coolness around...but mostly it got carpetbagged, overbuilt and destroyed.

I dated a man from Northampton, MA and it was a beautiful town when I went to visit...but I didn't play all that well there...southerners don't seem to go over well in Massachusetts. People looked at me weird when I said "howdy" or smiled at them on the street. Like they thought I was a black-wearing moonie about to whip off the waist length hair, hand them a flower and ask for a donation. ;)

Actually, I noticed that in a lot of northern cities...people are just confused by friendly folks. You ever want to walk around unmolested in NY, smile at people and say howdy a lot...they assume you're 1.) crazy and 2.) heavily armed. ;)

I wish I could read the rest of the article, but not enough to subscribe to the magazine itself. I wish more sites had the Salon model for "behind the wall" content.
posted by dejah420 at 2:01 PM on May 13, 2004


I love how this post and its subsequent comments blithely assume that everyone here is left-wing or "progressive" in the first place. Where's the sympathy for those of us right-wingers who had to grow up with the NY Times, CNN, the Village Voice, NPR, and the like as our only media window on the world--not because we were trying some noble experiment, but because that's all we knew and all we had access to?

The "post" didn't assume anything, I simply copied and pasted text from the atricle itself. At any rate, if you'll read upthread a bit you'll see the dissecting of the myth that the mainstream is 'liberal'. (NYTimes has more conservative columnists than liberal ones, etc. etc. etc.) The mainstream media is pretty shitty, but not because it's liberal. And if you had access to the village voice then you also had access to NYC's dailies such as the Post.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:19 PM on May 13, 2004


The "war" in Iraq is a shadow of the war in the States. One guess as to which will have the larger impact on history.
posted by rushmc at 2:28 PM on May 13, 2004


i'd assume 1, dejah ; >

(or that you were that naked cowboy's sister in for a visit)
posted by amberglow at 2:34 PM on May 13, 2004


Um, I'm sick of people saying, "Boo, hoo, conservatives only had the New York Times to read." The Wall Street Journal is more conservative than the Times is liberal, and has at least as distinguished a reporting staff.

Why is this always overlooked in the discussion of "is the media liberal"? The WSJ is arguably far more influential than the Times, and its conservative perspective is well-articulated.

As an eclectic Independent, I find that my vision of the "truth" is often in between the Times and the Journal's respective visions.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:37 PM on May 13, 2004


SpaceCadet--

Britain also has much stronger libel laws, don't they? I remember when I was in London (New Years 2003) there was some big story about a rich guy possibly having an affair with some woman (Elizabeth Hurley?) and not being able to print the guys name. Or maybe the woman's name. At any rate, some piece of information was withheld.

So you have to worry less about people like Drudge printing rumors as fact, which it makes it harder to shift totally to opinions. Not that it can't happen, of course. But it seems like that would present a calmer discourse than we get here in America.
posted by thecaddy at 3:02 PM on May 13, 2004


Britain has insanely restrictive libel laws. There are times when one can't print things one knows to be fact, let alone allegations.

If the US had British libel laws, the Pentagon Papers, Iran-Contra, and even Monica Lewinsky would never have made it into the media.

The late Auberon Waugh wrote quite eloquently about the archaic and repressive nature of British libel laws; I'll never forget reading his accounts of his own experiences in the Jeremy Thorpe matter.

Waugh was quick to champion others against the Juggernaut of the British libel code.

"Calmer discourse" isn't worth sacrificing the First Amendment, in my book.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:18 PM on May 13, 2004


If the US had British libel laws, the Pentagon Papers, Iran-Contra, and even Monica Lewinsky would never have made it into the media.

I guess U.S. laws are like the porridge Goldilocks chose- good enough to prevent overzealous prosecution, but fucked-up enough to keep Richard Nixon, Ollie North and Linda Tripp out of jail.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:50 PM on May 13, 2004


Where's the sympathy for those of us right-wingers who had to grow up with the NY Times, CNN, the Village Voice, NPR, and the like as our only media window on the world--not because we were trying some noble experiment, but because that's all we knew and all we had access to?

You were forced to go out and pick up a copy of the (not liberal anyway) NY Times everyday? Did your parents make you pick up the Village Voice each week? What about the NY Post or Wall Street Journal? Who forced you to listen to NPR? They didn't have AM talk radio where you grew up?
posted by crank at 4:19 PM on May 13, 2004


What? What is it that CNN or the Times, or anything beyond PBS and NPR, does that identifies them as having a left-wing agenda?

that's what I wanna know. the NYT I can kind of see where they're coming from. but PBS, NPR, CNN? I don't detect it. I wonder how many people that bang the media bias drum actually watch/listen to any of those (I'm gonna go out on a limb and say these folks get their info predominantly from sources that flaunt their conservative bias).

I think "liberal bias" may be some sort of code word for "absence of a conservative bias."
posted by mcsweetie at 5:09 PM on May 13, 2004


The sad part of all this is the fact that most people just don't want to hear something that contradicts what they THINK they already know. They don't want news... they want comforting reassurance that they are right.

It's called confirmation bias. According to psychologist Raymond Nickerson (who did a review of the literature on this bias) "confirmation bias ... appears to be sufficiently strong and persuasive that one is led to wonder whether the bias, by itself, might account for a significant fraction of the disputes, altercations, and misunderstandings that occur among individuals, groups, and nations.

Pretty much everyone does it, so to be a reasonable, rational person one must always be vigilant for it.
posted by moonbiter at 5:21 PM on May 13, 2004


You were forced to go out and pick up a copy of the (not liberal anyway) NY Times everyday?

We always had a subscription to it; it was the household paper. (It's also partly how I learned to read: from reading aloud the weather report in the top righthand corner to my parents at breakfast every morning when I was little.) In my family's eyes, the New York Times could do no wrong. It was like the voice of God or something. (My mom was also friends with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. in college and dated his roommate for two years.)

And I chortle mightily at your characterization of the paper as "not liberal". Pray tell, when was the last time the Times editorial board endorsed a Republican presidential candidate? Ever seen the unofficial stats that >90% of reporters there are Democrats? How about their choices of subjects to cover, and the angle they take within those articles? Does "Augusta National" ring a bell? How about banning Andrew Sullivan from the Times magazine? (Though that was also for his anti-Raynes views, not just his pro-GOP ones.) Sites like smartertimes.com (RIP) didn't exist for nothing.

Look, different newspapers and media outlets have different points of view. That's perfectly okay, as long as they don't pretend like they don't.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:32 PM on May 13, 2004


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