Susan Collins from University of Michigan, Kelly File, I hate Republicans flapping air

The Problem with “News”

Often it ain’t news. Often it’s sensationalized rhetoric meant to appease one’s base. Often even the most rudimentary level of knowledge or research blows the entire story until…heck until it blows. Disclaimer: I’m subjected to far fewer examples of MSNBC or so-called liberal “news” than I was 15 years ago, but I’m confident to opinionate that “news” from that side blew then and blows harder today. In my opinion neither ideological side has a monopoly on either good or bad reporting.

A “news” example for today:

Here is FOX News Insider and an excerpt from the Kelly File with Mike Huckabee as in studio guest where the host and former Governor discussed “I hate Republicans.” To its credit, those who read this FOX blog actually read the 132 words receive more factual information than from the 5 minute 27 second report from the Kelly File. The reason is because the blog actually links the original column by Susan Collins of the University of Michigan originally titled “We Can’t All Just Get Along” and subsequently changed in electronic copies to “It’s Okay to Hate Republicans.”

She does not cite references for some of her assertions and statistics. For example, I cannot verify the numbers, but I believe this hypothesis to be correct with some caveats such as I would need some accounting for regional data especially for the 1960 contention. I would also need some modes in place in account for the concept of variable change in my statistical analysis.

While I have only perused her primary citation: “Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization” by Shanto Iyengar (Chandler Chair of Communication and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and Sean J. Westwood (Post-Doctoral Researcher at Princeton University), it is more valid research than that suggested by Governor Huckabee or Megan Kelly.

While Collins does not cite a source for the two core dimensions of conservative thought, much of the older political theory literature supports the idea of “resistance to change” or in my vernacular “same ole, same ole.” More recent literature, however, challenges the two core dimension idea. Likewise, if inequality does exist, the maintenance of that inequality would be conservative by definition of the ideological term. Personally my feeling would be more in line with the more recent literature as I have a difficult time with a static two sides approach on many issues. In my discipline of history, we have schools of historical bibliography where the difference in interpretation is often a differing perspective and not the introduction of new source material. In the brief piece by Collins, a trained political scientist would likely question more of her contentions just as she as a communications professor would question my statements within her field. Obviously the political historian combined with being a southern historian is going to contradict with the political scientist as will be evidenced by the discussions my wife and I will likely have later concerning this blog entry.

As Collins wrote:

“According to researchers, the two core dimensions of conservative thought are resistance to change and support for inequality. These, in turn, are core elements of social intolerance. The need for certainty, the need to manage fear of social change, lead to black-and-white thinking and an embrace of stereotypes. Which could certainly lead to a desire to deride those not like you—whether people of color, LGBT people or Democrats. And, especially since the early 1990s, Republican politicians and pundits have been feeding these needs with a single-minded, uncomplicated, good-vs.-evil worldview that vilifies Democrats.

So now we hate them back. And for good reason. Which is too bad. I miss the Fred Lippitts of yore and the civilized discourse and political accomplishments they made possible. And so do millions of totally fed-up Americans.”

Simply put it would be quite easy to write a similar piece with the opening “I hate Democrats.” When placing those openings in the context of this article or another written in the same style, the argument will be the same. That argument is the increasing continuum of polarization.

Looking at the comments from the online article linked in the FOX blog, that fact remains evident. Obviously FOX, Megan Kelly, and Governor Huckabee did not put forth even a minimal effort to read either the article penned by Collins, the paper written by Iyengar and Westwood, or any of the approximately 6 pages of references which they include in a brief bibliography for their research.

Is it news reporting…not so much. Regardless of personal ideological feelings, it is a necessity to utilize multiple sources from different perspectives and to read the primary source materials if you want some degree of accuracy.

As for me, I’ll sing:  Whar oh whar has the Blue Dog Gone, whar oh whar can he be? Could he be with the Progressive GOP? Could it be they’re both lost at sea? Oh whar oh whar can both be to end all this bickering and crying that we see?