Sunday, January 2, 2011

When did it come to this? (Ted Koppel article)

Many thanks to my old dear friend Lia Farrow (nee Mercandetti), who posted this article to her Facebook.

It's a little different content; I mostly yammer about religious (and especially Jewish) issues, with some minor delving into community issues moreso than politics, but other than the cast of characters, I think the issue discussed is one of community issue; that is, what happens when we get our news from disparate, partisan sources?

Of course, other democracies have managed this for years (I'm looking at you, Great Britain) and Ted Koppel's post has a whiff of a "Where is the Horse and the Rider" nostalgia-fest for an unbiased media that was under constant scrutiny of partisanship by all sides (which I guess proves the point), but he does make a point, which is that we are rapidly losing the ability to speak truth to ourselves or power:

It is also part of a pervasive ethos that eschews facts in favor of an idealized reality. The fashion industry has apparently known this for years: Esquire magazine recently found that men's jeans from a variety of name-brand manufacturers are cut large but labeled small. The actual waist sizes are anywhere from three to six inches roomier than their labels insist.

Perhaps it doesn't matter that we are being flattered into believing what any full-length mirror can tell us is untrue. But when our accountants, bankers and lawyers, our doctors and our politicians tell us only what we want to hear, despite hard evidence to the contrary, we are headed for disaster. We need only look at our housing industry, our credit card debt, the cost of two wars subsidized by borrowed money, and the rising deficit to understand the dangers of entitlement run rampant. We celebrate truth as a virtue, but only in the abstract. What we really need in our search for truth is a commodity that used to be at the heart of good journalism: facts - along with a willingness to present those facts without fear or favor.

Perhaps this is what Rabbi Boteach was trying to get at? This point does scare me from a religious as well as communitarian perspective; if we cannot perform the act of cheshbon nefesh (accounting of the soul, an idea I brought up before the new year), either for ourselves, nor lovingly rebuke each other, then we may find ourselves playing Theoden with the hordes are at our gates: how did it come to this?

Ted Koppel: Olbermann, O'Reilly and the death of real news

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