Monday, February 20, 2006

It's Not Always Opinion Vs. Fact

Sometimes they go together. Sometimes they don't.

An opinion from
Now that government has demonstrated failure in dealing with the disaster, Louisiana politicians want government to play a major role in the recovery. In response to local pressure (Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has threatened to try and block a federal sale of oil and gas leases off the Gulf Coast), Congress is appropriating another $30 billion over and above the $100 billion that it has already appropriated for rebuilding New Orleans.
$130 billion for “rebuilding New Orleans?” I haven’t seen that in the news.

I would have passed over this if I hadn’t read the author’s bio:
As a social policy consultant, Star Parker gives regular testimony before the U.S. Congress, and is a national expert on major television and radio shows across the country.

Currently, Star is a regular commentator on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News. She debated Jesse Jackson on BET; fought for school choice on Larry King Live; and defended welfare reform on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
I hope she’s not going on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX making these types of errors, or on radio shows across the country. Those shows probably wouldn't catch the mistake.

But it is a mistake. However, this author’s goal isn’t to get the numbers right. She wants to prove that racism had nothing to do with the federal government’s botched response to Katrina. The facts are secondary to this purpose, and evidently dispensable.

Markus of Wet Bank Guide finds more examples of the media's disinterest in the facts and ponders the blogger's role:
I have been around politics and the media too long to have any naive notions that we can completely overturn the edifice of talk radio and cable television that has replaced news with political posturing unconcerned with inconvenient truth.

If a disaster the scale of Katrina can't topple this behemoth, I don't know what can. Those of us in the blogosphere or in the few remaining outposts of journalism where the idea "afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted" still has currency can try, but it is an almost quixotic task.
Quixotic, it is. But fancy words are no match for the bloggers of La Mancha:
“Look yonder, friend bloggers, where you may discover somewhat more than thirty monstrous giants, with whom I intend to fight, and take away all their lives: with whose spoils we will begin to enrich ourselves.”
Sometimes it is more fun to be Don Quixote than Sancho Panza.


bayoustjohndavid said...

In addition to the inflated numbers, I've noticed that even honest journalists tend to make it sound like all the money is going to N.O. I heard it repeatedly in CNN this weekend, aly=though they'd usually correct it to N.O. and the Gulf Coast, that still puts the emphasis on N.O. And CNN has been pretty good.

Mark said...

Ah, DPB I should have given you a shout out in that same post. You're one step ahead of the TP, and don't think that some people there don't read blogs. I know they do, 'cause I used to work with them at Guide Newspapers, and they read mine. And follow links.

Part of the method of building a modern information machine is to build current (get it out there) and repetition (think radio advertising). That's what we're doing.

We're not going to topple the human pyramid of 20 million Rush listeners (now there's an ugly thought). They're already as lost to America as the generation of pipe heads they came up with.

But somewhere in the middle between the pipeheads and the kook aid drinkers, we just need to turn enough hearts and minds to get just enough to raise the levees, and keep a half-million from bankruptcy.

And if that doesn't work, things will get ugly. As they used to say when I was coming up, don't start no shit, won't be no shit.