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Awash in a sea of noise

Fri, Dec 7th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

I never thought I would be agreeing with Spiro Agnew or Dick Cheney, or even G. W. Bush. They and others have over the years railed against the print, radio, and TV media about not sharing what they consider to be the good or accurate news.

Of course, they were trying to make us forget the "bad news". None the less, I have to agree that the press, radio and TV folks can and do present to the public what they think we want to know, or at least what they think, in the words of the New York Times, "all the news that is fit to print".

Think about that. What the Times is saying is that they will present to their readers what they believe is appropriate on a daily basis. Now, I must admit that I will buy a copy of the Times any chance I get. Why? Because in my view, it is as thorough and as balanced as a newspaper can be. Some may disagree. Still, one has to take all of the stories given for public consumption with a grain of salt, even from the Times. In the case of folks like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly, and Keith Oberman one might need a pound rather than a grain of salt.

Think for a moment about how the media describes the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. The same adjectives are used over and over until they take on a life of their own as if they were really true. Hillary Clinton is painted as too harsh or too polarizing. Barack Obama is too young or too inexperienced. Rudy Giuliani has been married too many times and is out of touch with middle America. Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper and perhaps a bit too slick. John McCain is John McCain.

I suppose the candidates themselves have to take some of the blame for this. If one watched even part of the televised so called debates you would see and hear the candidates taking issue not so much with their opponents' positions as with their opponents life style, experience or lack there of, how they may or may not have voted, or who they may have employed to work in their garden.

My guess is that us just plain folks want a bit more substance and a lot less noise from the candidates. I also guess that we would like a real debate on topics of importance, not a question and answer session played by the candidates as who can give the best sound bite answer. When these debates are over, the media follows with a score card of sorts as to who won and who lost. They pick the winners and losers based not on whose answer made the most sense but who looked good or who held their ground or who dissed who the best.

It would be helpful if the candidates and the media stay with topics of importance and give all who are in the race an equal chance at being heard. As it is now, we are awash in a sea of noise.

Alan Lipowitz lives in Peterson.

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