Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fair and Balanced?

When I was in college my major course of study was Biblical Literature. In one of the first classes I took we learned that we were supposed to approach the Bible objectively. It is unfair, inappropriate and unsafe to bring my own ideas to the Scriptures. In addition, we must never use the Bible to bolster or support what we already believe. The idea behind studying the Bible is to find out what it says, not getting it to say what I want.

Then I got to seminary. One of my professors in seminary taught us that it is impossible to be completely impartial in reading the Bible. I can never pretend that I am not who I am. I will always have my thoughts, beliefs and ideas. Rather than pretend that I do not, I should be honest about the impact that those things have on my reading of the Bible.

That reminds me of the media wars that we are seeing today. Most of the media is pretending to be objective, even though they are not. They all have certain agendas, perspectives and biases. Even those commentators who complain about media bias are biased media commentators.

Today there are a lot of 24 hour news channels on cable television. My satellite system has at least eight stations that are devoted to non-stop news, business and opinion. Everyone of them is a little bit different from the others. Some of them cater to women, some to men. One has a particularly liberal perspective, another is conservative.

The problem I have is that some of these networks have a particular political agenda, but act as though they do not. One promotes itself as "fair and balanced." Fair and balanced implies that all sides of an issue or event are explored impartially and without bias. This is certainly not the case for this network.

They are certainly allowed to present issues in whatever context they desire. I have no problem with their rights to broadcast in this manner. However, if you pretend like you are objective, you should be objective- at least as objective as you can be.

One more thing: This same network makes the boast, "We report, you decide." How untrue. They report, that much is accurate. But, they report only what they want to report. They provide perspectives and analyses only from experts that they choose. The world view of this network is focused just so that I will decide what they want me to. The reporting of this channel is designed to make me decide in a particular political way.

You can believe what you want. You can even spread the propaganda that you want. Just be sure that you do not try to convince the American people that everyone else is biased and you are not. Tell the truth.

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