It never ceases to amaze me how media can quote idiots without blinking or challenging their statements, just because it makes for a good point, or better, an inflammatory remark that gets articles read and posted about on blogs (like this). To that end, I am not going to link to the article in question.
Sufficed to say, it was on CNN.com and quoted a Clarksville, TN man as saying:
"Never in the history of the country has the flag been more hated or more loved"Huh?! First off, ever heard of a little ditty called the Civil War? I would expect a southerner especially to remember that if nothing else. I've also seen a lot of protests, but nothing on the scale of things in the 60's and 70's over Vietnam, etc. We had tens of thousands of people fleeing to Canada for goodness sake. There are parallels with today's happenings, but we are (thankfully) still a long way off from the level of animosity, distrust, and rebellion that we had back then. But this article isn't about how stupid people are and how poor our knowledge of history is.
The real point of this article is how frustrating it is to see these kinds of comments in the "news". Mark Cuban recently ranted on this kinda stuff in his blog, too. Specifically, he's frustrated over the reactions and suppositions made in a recent Business Week article that (mis?)quoted him.
I recently loaned a good book to a friend titled "The Dish: How Gossip Became News and the News Became Just Another Show". Among other things, it talks about how this is not a new phenomenon. It has been a slow creep since the 50's (probably earlier). In particular, i found it interesting that Mike Wallace got his start as a decent news guy, but then went to the dark side and made his name by being the 1950's equivalent of Geraldo (or worse). He did things for effect and to make people upset - because they would watch - not to report the news or improve society. Fascinating book. It also talks about how Michael Jackson's people allowed tabloid photographers in to take pictures of Michael in an oxygen tent so long as they promised the pictures would be slightly obscured (so as to make it appear they were without permission) and the tabloids agreed to use the word "bizarre" in the headline - those were the terms. I highly recommend skimming it if you want to become totally disillusioned with our modern media in general.
I know that no media is going to be perfect in this regard. To illustrate this point, i would recommend watching Good Night and Good Luck (a movie paid for by Mark Cuban by the way). Although it can feel like a pretty one-sided movie that starts to preach politics, it knows it is. And that's the point. It shows that a bunch of guys trying to be the even-handed 'fair' reporters can't do it. Everyone has a slant. Everyone has a bias. So even when good people try to do the right thing, you're going to end up with slant. That's why people need to watch/read/listen to all media with a discerning ear.
I just wish more media made it easier on us. Some shows or stations have a political leaning one way or the other (NPR leaning to the left for example) but at least attempt to be reasonable. Where as CNN, FOX News, and most "talk" radio hosts on both sides are more about upsetting people and being loud than about being intelligent.
I just wonder if any news outlets actually employ fact-checkers anymore. I know their marketing departments and lawyers are doing great.