Sunday, August 09, 2009

Wanted: Intelligent Debate

Watching the debates (for lack of a better term) rage on in the US, has really been something hasn't it? From 'Birthers' to Health Care, there has been no shortage of crazy talk. From Sarah Palin's comment about Obama's 'Death' panels, to Orly Taitz speaking about Obama not being a US citizen, it's bizarre that these things get coverage, but here we are.

I thought of that earlier as I caught some of Fareed Zakaria's show. He was interviewing Hillary Clinton.

Let me begin by saying, we would do well to have a political show in this country hosted by someone with his breadth of knowledge. At one point, he was discussing Bill Clinton's trip to North Korea. He referenced John Bolton's comments last week about the trip, well actually, I think he only got the words "John Bolton said..." out, when Hillary just burst out laughing. Perfect! I thought, perfect!

What a perfect response to the extreme right and their followers. In a second, that laughter destroyed any credibility Bolton's comments may have had. Poof...dismissed!

It's what we should do here more often. It's how progressive political leaders should respond to the lunacy often put out by the right.

All to often though, we become indignant, or angry, because the attempt to reduce substantial issues to dumbed down 30 second sound bites is just so bloody insulting. That anger though is then picked up in the media and it legitimizes that there actually is a debate on a non existent point.

Think of the whole phony 'coup' issue in the fall based on the coalition. The media certainly didn't try to diffuse the situation with facts. Instead, it was as if someone had screamed food fight! and they covertly lobbed a few dozen eggs themselves, just to keep it going. It should be said that we haven't quite fallen to the lunacy we see south of the border, but we've had our moments.

Now, I'm not blaming the media. It is what it is at this point, but if we want a different result, maybe a different reaction is what is needed.

Some issues are too serious to laugh at obviously, but when the outrageous lies are spoken, I'm thinking we'd do well to laugh at them first. Point out their stupidity. Have the media glom on to that track.

It could be why shows like John Stewart's, Rachel Maddow's and Bill Maher's, make mince meat out of GOP talking points in pretty short order.

That said, when the issues are more serious, we need reasoned dialogue, such that I witnessed on Zakaria's show today.


Cari said...

It is a crying shame and I know a few years ago Harper would have gladly joined in, with those lying Republicans.

Karen said...

Indeed, Cari. Maybe not the Birther's...but Health Care? You bet!

The Mound of Sound said...

Why aren't you blaming the media? As they've become increasingly corporatized, steadily concentrated, they've quite willingly abandoned their responsibility as the "watchdog of government" to stand as its lapdog instead.

The media has descended from a brief albeit imperfect moment of enlightenment into a self-serving public scourge. I recall a time when a reporter's starting point with ANY politician was the other side of centre ice. No matter how much you liked them, even admired some of them, your professionalism demanded nothing less.

Today we have the likes of Lloyd Robertson and the late Mike Duffy who shilled his way straight into the Senate. We have CanWest and Sun Media. The Globe is a skeletal shadow of what it had been as a Thompson paper.

The greatest newsman of our day, Cronkite, came out of his retirement to castigate the Philistines who had taken control of his nation's airwaves. So too did Bill Moyers. Those two gentlemen are the Gold Standard by which all modern journalism ought to be measured and, put to that standard, they're bloody rotten.

penlan said...

I'm in complete agreement with MoS on this one. I blame the media too. They are the ones who bring the message to the people. It's the only way we get our information, except for those who hunt around online & that's just a small no. of us. Instead of reporting the truth, facts, etc., it's all about ratings & money so the more *sensational* it is the better - truth be damned.

I can only hope that come Fall CBC will have better reporting & more hard-hitting at the truth than they have done so in the past. Now that Don Newman is gone what do we have left?

RuralSandi said...

MoS is right. Example - I live in rural Ontario. Each little town used to have its own newpaper/editor/journalists. Sun Media have taken over and put all the little town papers into one.

The articles in the Sun are in HUGE print - today's slagging Ignatieff, or course - same articles that are in the main Toronto Sun paper. Letters to the editors, if any are printed, are in tiny, tiny print.

Letters to the editor used to be one of the best parts of our "historical" small town paper. People would debate back and forth by writing to the editor and often I'd see friends bantering ideas, views back and forth. Now it's a total, total partisan bunch of crap with "very litte" local stuff (all small towns included).

I will not be renewing my subscription and I will be telling them why.

I don't buy partisan papers - left, right or whatever. I don't want to pay for partisanship at all. I want "real" news with investigated "real" facts.

Actually, Macleans is getting weird as well and I thought that magazine would be above it all. Nope, won't buy any of them anymore. Enough.

Karen said...

MoS, Penlan and RS...I don't disagree.

I didn't phrase that properly.

I meant to say they aren't solely responsible...that's all.

My thought was to change their direction and it can't be denied that we contribute to the feeding frenzy.

Fair comment though and I apoligise for not saying it properly.