Wednesday, May 18, 2005

My dad listens to Rush Limbaugh in the morning, and thus, so do I. Every half hour his program takes a break for a news update, which is produced by ABC. Listening to Limbaugh and ABC News in close succession is absolutely dizzying. It’s a rodeo. One moment the talk is leaning to the far right, then it sweeps left with a snap, then back again. When Clear Channel Broadcasting switches to Fox News this summer, there may be a bit more continuity, to say the least. But the current situation is truly strange.

Is anyone else disturbed by the state of the modern media? It’s been said that newspapers and television media are losing ground to talk radio and Internet blogs. The two sides of this division – the papers and TV versus talk radio and the blogosphere – are notoriously politically slanted, left and right, respectively. Personally, I lean toward the right in my politics, and prefer the latter media. My personal preference isn’t necessarily an indicator of better accuracy on one side. I think Tom Sullivan is more trustworthy than Charles Gibson, but I honestly don’t know. What I do know is this: both sides can’t be right. That’s what disturbs me.

The current debate over filibustering judicial nominees is a good example. In the Senate, Republicans are trying to change current procedure that allows Democrats to filibuster President Bush’s judicial nominees. Limbaugh and others proclaim that the Constitution outlines specific areas where filibustering – holding the floor and speaking for an extended period, in an attempt to keep a given issue from going to a vote – is appropriate, and the nomination of judges is not one of them. This idea, true or not, is never mentioned by the nightly news, which refers to the Republicans’ current efforts as the “nuclear option,” a denial of minority rights and a political power play. Anchormen and reporters refer to years of Senate tradition which would be abolished by the removal of the filibuster in this situation.

Follow me here. Talk radio says that filibustering judicial nominees is actually against the rules, and shouldn’t be allowed in the first place. The nightly news says that it’s an established tradition in the Senate. The only way both views could be true is if the Senate has been filibustering judicial nominees for years despite the rules. This is possible, but more likely, at least one side of the media is badly skewed. Badly.

Maybe I would side more with television and newspapers if they were more even-handed. I recently watched a report on NBC that left my jaw hanging. The gist was that moderate Republicans in Congress are leaning toward the left, and that Bush would have to alter his agenda to recapture them. That was it. Not a hint of counterpoint. Not a mention of the fact that Republicans have majorities in both houses. Just the idea that there are Republicans shifting toward the Democratic side, and that Bush would have to do the same. By contrast, talk radio has frequent liberal Democratic callers that get to bring up points and spark debate. The discourse is not always functional, but there are often good, logical arguments that actually illuminate the perspective of both sides. That doesn’t happen on the nightly news.

All of this just speaks to my general ignorance of the facts. I don’t know what’s really going on in Washington, Iraq, or Guantanimo Bay. I rely on secondhand reports, many of which come from people with agendas. It’s getting hard to trust anyone bearing news, including and perhaps especially the old, established news outlets. The spin is making me dizzy. As are the reversals of position we’ve seen from Newsweek, CBS, the Sacramento Bee, retractions of stories and apologies for inaccuracy.

How trustworthy is Jim Lehrer, I wonder? And do I want the news badly enough to sit through the News Hour?


Duckmu said...

I think it more likely that fillibustering judicial nominees was never considered by our fore fathers who wrote the constitution, and it is an entirely new problem that has to be decided on. But both sides are trying to make the other look like the bad guy, when really none of them have any idea what they should really do. But I don't think there are alot of guidelines on when fillibustering is premitted and when it is not, I think it's just an option, of course I could be wrong. Either way I think left and right, up and down, and everyone in between needs to stop drawing lines and making sides. Sides are for childrens games, not governing a nation.

Quack Quack Emu Sound

the Razorclown said...

Yeah, I'm in the dark as to what congressional procedure is, and what the Constitution says on the matter. I do know that 10 nominees have already been filibustered.

I'm totally cool with there being sides, as long as they exist for a good reason. That is to say, opposing beliefs, and not strictly as methods of ascending to power. If parties are divided because they have different approaches to government, great. If they're just rivals vying for control, crap on that.

23r0 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
23r0 said...

i think the idea is not to trust of ether side and make up you own mind right or wong you will fell better about it just look into things and make up your own mind for the love of GOD my queston is has the left or right help you or me if you ask me they seem bot out


Duckmu said...

From what I can tell, often the dies are just vying for control. But 10 nominess huh? If that's right, and I don't doubt you Brian, then perhaps Bush needs to consider a nominee that the Democrats will accept. I mean if the Democrats are willing to fillibuster 10 nominees then there must be some reason, and I really hope it's not just because they don't like Bush. So many other presidents have made judicial nominees that appealed enough to both major parties to become Superior Court Justices, I have to think that there is something very wrong with Bush's policy of choosing judicial nominees. Either that or it is a total power play by Democrats to start republicans from getting more control in another branch.

Quack Quack Emu Sound

Third said...

Well, it's not my place to be flaming on here, so i'll post what i know, and what i've heard myself. First: The Fillibuster is an acceptabe tactic at any time during congressional proceedings, and has been used as such. In a partisan climate where one side controls a greater than 50% of a voting house, the fillibuster is the only tactic that a minority party has in its arsenal to combat a partisan issue that it feels strongly set against. To say that a fillibuster is inappropriate for use in certain (inconvenient) situations is an absurdity akin to something you'd hear on an elementary schoolyard. While i am myself overwhelmingly liberal, i don't favor partisan politics, or any divisive measure in government, and the books of order governing house and senate procedure are the only things keeping the two from becoming free-for-alls. One thing that is certain to me, is that either extreme can be equally damaging to our nation, but that most people who care enough to vote have sense enough to realize when someone is being too much. We've all seen the retractions in the liberal media, the smear campaigns. Conversely i have heard, verbatim, from a conservative talk radio show, the phrase "Tolerance, left unchecked, will destroy our great nation."
Bottom line: know what you believe in, listen to others, and allow yourself to be critical of both. There's no progress any other way.


the Razorclown said...

After a moment's research, I've found the the filibuster "evolved in the Senate over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries," and it's constitutionality is under debate.

The left has put into place a lot of social programs that have helped a lot of people, 23r0. And when the right cuts taxes, people get more of their own money back. That's how they generate support, as I see it. I won't defend the politicians that have been bought out, though. To Canada with them.

Philisophical objection or power play? Increasingly hard to tell, indeed.

I will admit, that talk radio quote sounds really bad out of context. However, I could see instances where it's absolutely correct. Some things are not to be tolerated. Certainly, though, extremism in politics is pretty easy to spot and vote out in a democracy.