It’s not news, it’s commentary

Back in November, Ted Koppel lamented the decline of news, citing MSNBC and others as “not the news”. That was kind of dumb for a very smart man. Only an idiot fails to recognize that MSNBC is commentary. How could it be otherwise when it has no newscasts?
Some people might get confused b/c the commentators comment on the news. Even the well-done documentaries by Rachel Maddow are still commentaries, neither news nor scholarly work.
Fox News has what I’ve heard is a decent news department. What gets a lot of people’s goat is their commentary. Objectively speaking, they do distort and outright lie while I don’t see that on MSNBC. Naturally, conservatives will swear it’s the opposite b/c they think it is perfectly reasonable to discuss Obama’s supposedly Muslim faith or foreign birth as a controversy, just like they urge supernatural origins for life to be aired along with evolutionary theory b/c of the “controversy”.
There is no controversy over evolution. It explains very well the facts of life on earth. Because it is science and not religion, it is not perfect. And that is what a good many Americans are looking for: absolute and total truth with no qualifications and no changes over time. They simply cannot abide the notion that our explanation of life on earth is a work in progress. Not to mention the fact that there is no Big Daddy In the Sky to take care of them within evolutionary theory the way there is in Intelligent Design or Creationism. But there is no controversy.
No one would say that those advocating supernaturalism are stupid. After all, they came up with this slick way of getting their beliefs into public schools. “Hey, we’re fair, teach evolution, too, but include Intelligent Design b/c then you’re being balanced, you’re teaching the controversy.” And if we say, no, I.D. is not science, they accuse us of being arrogant. You can’t win with people who are desperate to live only with certitude wrapped in a blankey.
Which brings us back to the news and commentary. The news does not point out that presidential candidates who “don’t believe in evolution”, as if it’s a religion, are figures of fun, childish people with little understanding of some of the most important issues in our world. These are people who think funding medical research involves a Louis Pasteur figure who will “discover” a cure. The infrastructure of research and its results is terra incognita to them.
To my mind, MSNBC is one of many outlets for commentary. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert offer commentary in the form of satire, Bill Maher in the form of comedy. Chris Rock some time ago suggested we just give guns away but charge $5,000 per bullet. How intelligent is that compared to the insane fantasies of people who own anti-personnel weapons but call themselves hunters. They carry in their minds the fantasy seen on the covers of pulp magazines in the 50s, the ones with the musceled White man with a White woman clinging to him as he fights off hoardes of monkey-people. Gee, I wonder who those are?
Once the insanity in our politics spread from Pat Robertson, Billy James Hargis, the NRA, and Jerry Falwell into the highest ranks of the Republican Party and we were asked to accept this as politics and then accept the lies on Fox as news, we really needed a voice of sanity here and there.
I know that conservatives really do not understand just how nuts they sound, telling us that putting the ten commandments in a classroom will improve test scores or that the founding fathers were all bible-believing baptists. My wife was raised Pentecostal and we know lots of fervently religious people whose educational level is not real high and we value them immensely but not as our representatives to Congress. We don’t want them setting standards for our schools.
This supposed inability to distinguish between people who know how the world works and people who will take a child in but do not know how the court system works* derives from a cynical standpoint: to get votes, we will manipulate people who do not understand that we have our hands in their pockets and in their ballot boxes. And if anyone points this out to them, we will say they are elitists who think they know better – back to my What’s the Matter With Kansas enttry.
No. My wife’s cousin wanted to vote for McCain b/c she believes homosexuality will bring god’s punishment down on us and that worries her far more than the fact she can’t get medical care. After all, she can get healing prayer for illness but not if god turns his face from us. I’m sorry folks, but people like that need to be protectd. That’s our politicians’ job and all they are doing is scaring these people so they can get their votes and then use their power to enrich medical companies.
Moreover, and this is more powerful than the fear of homosexuality, the Republicans convince her that the Obama administration wants to take her salt and sugar out of her food. I mean, salt and sugar are the only things that make her feel good, what with all the diabetes she has.
The only thing keeping her from casting her vote for Republicans is the blatant racism she sees in them. Being an elderly Black woman from the South, this is one thing she recognizes instinctively, out of a survival instinct. And so the Black vote will continue to be 90% Democratic. Now if Bill Maher will just stop cussing, maybe we can get her to watch him and learn something.

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