What If We All Saw The Same News? (EP.258)

If the majority of your sources of news agree, you are biased.

Introduction

Diversity and inclusiveness are two concepts, goals, really, that are much in the news. Where is our desire for diversity and inclusion in the news and opinions that we seek out?

Here’s a better question: Why should we have to seek out different sources of news and information in the first place? Why have the various outlets stopped reporting the news straight up and without bias?

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode. 

Continuing

Walter Cronkite was an American broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–1981). During the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as “the most trusted man in America” after being so named in an opinion poll. Many people preferred to get their news from CBS because they liked Walter, but you could go to NBC or ABC, CBS’ rivals, and get the same information. Only the personalities were different. 

Mr. Cronkite was a liberal, but more importantly to him, he was a professional. He had many wonderful qualities including sincerity, calmness and a professional demeanor and delivery. Perhaps the greatest compliment that I can give Cronkite is that I had no idea what his political leanings were until after his death in 2009; he simply never turned that card over, either explicitly or implicitly. No one can say that about a single news source today. Not. One.

Most of us know the story of the six blind men working to determine what was in front of them, then announce to the world what it was. Working with a different part of the elephant, each man came up with different conclusions. And each man was positive that he was correct–and that the other five were wrong. All six were wrong. 

That is what we are doing today with our focus on only a single type source of fact and logic. “But, Will, that is not me!” If the vast majority of your sources of news and opinion agree with each other, with the same “facts”, assessments, likes and dislikes, it is you. And you are as wrong as any one of the blind men. Dangerously wrong.

Today’s Key Point: If we listen to only one of the elephant investigators about what they found, we would be as wrong as they are. In the same way, if we listen to only one, or one type of, news, political or financial investigators and reporters, we will be as wrong as any of the blind men. 

Here are the news and opinion sources that I consult on a weekly basis, often all of them daily:

  • CNN
  • FOX
  • MSNBC
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Smerconish.com
  • Ben Shapiro
  • Quillette
  • National Review
  • Colorado Springs Gazette
  • BBC
  • Many columnists of all political stripes

It used to be that you could trust the news pages; only the editorials and opinion sections were allowed to show bias. Journalism once had rules; it had integrity. Integrity has been replaced by agendas–agendas driven by a “whatever it takes to sell the agenda” mentality. Now the only thing you can trust is the rare instance where several disparate sources say the same thing. Each source type is going to declare whatever elephant may be in front of us to be a fan, a wall, a rope, a tree, a snake or a spear. And going one up on the blind men, once news sources have made their initial declaration, no matter what new evidence might be discovered, they will stick with their original declaration, doubling down as needed. Once they decide to declare the elephant to be a tree, it will always be a tree. Once a source has decided that Trump is an embarrassing evil, he will always be an embarrassing evil. In the same way, if a source has declared Trump to be the Second Coming, the savior of Western Civilization, nothing will change their opinion.

“Well, Will, we can at least trust science, yes? After all, if scientists had studied that elephant, we would know that it was an elephant.” In school we were taught that math and science were impervious to opinion, and always revealed the truth to us. Then came various versions of climate change science, and the phrase “scientific opinion” was no longer an oxymoron. And now COVID “science.” If we can get into the furballs that I have seen over face coverings, clearly science has not settled even that one. 

The problem is that science is being used as just another tool for the blind men among us to prove that the elephant is a rope or a fan or whatever they claim it to be. The blind men had an excuse; they were blind. They were at fault because they did not consult with each other, cooperating until they mutually discovered the truth. Today’s elephant investigators are not blind. Far from it, they have investigative tools available to them that would have been the envy of investigators and reporters just ten years ago. They do not use the tools to gain new information to challenge and reshape their claims; they use, twist, the tools to provide “evidence” to support the claims they have been making all along.

And it might get worse before it gets better. Most of our schools and universities have decided which part of the elephant they claim to represent reality. When these students see the very same claims being made in the mainstream media, they will think they have found the truth. Confirmation bias can be deeply convicting.

Here’s my view of what the elephant we call life is all about:

  1. Life is simple. The rules for succeeding in life are clear. We pretend they are fuzzy or nuanced to avoid no. 2.
  2. Life is hard. As it should be. How else could we grow and learn? How else could we develop ourselves so that we can help others to grow and learn? Beware of the many among us who claim that if any part of life is hard, that we are victims, deserving of profuse apologies and compensation.
  3. Life is well worth it. The rules are easy to learn; discipline is hard. With no discipline nothing gets done. With some discipline, some things get done. With lots of discipline, lots gets done.

Absent the return of Walter Cronkite, we must all search through the disparate and apparently conflicting sources. We must communicate with each other, and find the truth on our own. And not only will we find what is real, but we will have developed research and analysis “muscles” that will serve us well in life.

Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know. 

As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.

Contact

As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple, Google, or Stitcher.

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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
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2 Responses

  1. Ken Reply

    Oh Darn, Will! I had just finished writing what I assumed was a well thought out basis to what I’d hoped you would have answered us back on as to what any of the Advisors & Presenters of the DNC & now RMC evenings may have responded back to you after reading today’s Epilog. But when hoping one would be from Kellyanne Conway and pausing to spell-check her name, I lost my whole script!
    Aren’t you glad?

    If she or any others did reply, including Mr. Cronkite, would appreciate hearing!

    Ken

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