This is an appropriate time to discuss my role, as I see it. Many will find my written thoughts and wonder from what authority I dare speak on these various subjects. My answer is in the name under which I write. I am a heavy consumer of news and commentary that springs from broadcast and print media. I presume to be representative of the audience to whom everyone is speaking.
Citizen Phil is a taste of the political stew that has been brewing for more than two decades. I have formed a set of attitudes concerning local, national, and world affairs. I measure what politicians say against that template and I view things through a lens of values, which has formed over a lifetime. I have many life experiences, both good and bad. To top it off, I have a wife, three kids, and a little white dog.
Therefore, to answer the original question, I speak from the perspective of the "regular" guy, although I might pay a little closer attention to what is going on than some. I am speaking to the other passengers on the bus. When I think the driver may be lost, or is getting bad directions, I feel compelled to speak up.
There has been a lot of talk concerning liberal bias in major news organizations. For conservatives, the bias is as clear as the sky is blue. Liberals, on the other hand have focused on Fox News and the myriad of conservative talk radio personalities, claiming the bias exists only there.
Surveys taken from journalists and news media professionals are telling. I found some results on a website that quotes a Freedom Forum survey. One hundred thirty-nine Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents were asked, for whom they voted in the 1992 election. The results show: 89 percent voted for Bill Clinton, 7 percent voted for George Bush (Senior), while 2 percent voted for Ross Perot.
Another question asked how they would characterize their political orientation. The results show that 61 percent identified themselves as liberal or moderate liberal, 9 percent claimed to be conservative or moderate conservative.
The numbers that I picked out are, admittedly out of context, and survey results vary widely depending on who asks for them. Nevertheless, the numbers show a predictable trend that is wide enough to make you wonder. In comparison to surveys of regular Americans, the position from which journalists begin their world-view is in sharp contrast to the average citizen.
An article from the Columbia Spectator Online Edition, quoted New York Times executive editor, Bill Keller in a speech he made at one of their fundraisers. He is quoted to have said; "the major press is under attack from ideologues on the right and left."
The article went on to say, Keller thinks blogging or online writing blurs news and commentary, and is therefore, a mixed blessing. "A blog’s inherent bias might be detrimental to the reader", he said, "and that a blog is still a view of the world through a pinhole."
I do not want to club Mr. Keller with the words of Jesus, but the following is a universal bit of common sense. Most religions, at the very least, recognize Jesus as a great philosopher and prophet. I believe him to be much more than that. Anyway, here is some advice from Jesus, as found in Matthew 7:3-5:
(3) "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
(4) How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
(5) You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Major media news outlets, in my opinion are nothing but big rooms, filled with bloggers. Every journalist has a personal filter through which he or she will compose all reports. Sure, there are fact checkers and editors, but collectively I fear that they simply form a larger lens of the same prescription. Anyway, facts do not always get in the way. All we need to do is take a look at CBS and Dan Rather’s impeccable sources.
If the New York Times could send half of their eye planks to the paper mills, they would save millions of dollars and acres of trees. I think that I should probably wrap things up. There seems to be a speck of something in my eye, and I am getting a little tired.
Copyright ©2005, Phil Harris - All Rights Reserved