It’s been said that time (or love) makes fools of us all. I say the people who say that must not have spent too much time among the hyperpartisan. Partisanship does have an awful habit of blinding people to reality.
Yet again, a reader has complained that there are almost no conservative letters on the Voices page, especially those criticizing Hillary Clinton (he also thinks the Voices page should be mostly conservative just like Arkansas is … or so he believes). Since I’ve already done two content analyses for this same reader (one on Democratic and Republican letters leading up to the last general election, and the other on positive and negative letters about Mark Pryor, both of which proved his assumptions wrong), I won’t do another one. It was bad enough plodding through the transcript of last month’s 11-hour Benghazi hearing only to find that many of the talking points the reader repeated about Benghazi seem based more in animus-driven speculation and/or misinterpretation than fact (talking points do have the tendency to be less than factual, you know).
Plus, conservative readers who are regularly published would be surprised to learn they’re not conservative. Those on both sides of the fence might also puzzle over their published critical letters of Hillary that apparently weren’t critical. Come to think of it, the bulk of the letters we receive about her aren’t exactly love letters. She’s not really all that lovable, you know.
Dude, did you ever consider that perhaps there’s a reason you keep getting rejected while other conservative letter-writers don’t have much of a problem?
Yeah, who am I kidding?
And as far as maintaining that Arkansas is 70 percent Republican and the Voices page should thus be mostly conservative … well, not so much, buddy. The latest Arkansas Poll showed about a third each for Republicans, Democrats and independents: 27 percent identified as Republican, 32 percent Democrat, 32 percent independent, and 3 percent as “other.” (Coincidentally, that was about the split on that first content analysis.)
Yes, 42 percent of the independents said they felt closer to Republicans while 23 percent felt closer to Democrats, but you can’t simply add those percentages together. Since the poll (which was of 800 people, with a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points) didn’t provide raw numbers, only percentages, I had to extrapolate the numbers from the percentages for a party breakdown: 256 each Democrats and independents, and 216 Republicans. Adding in the number of independents by percentage to the side to which they leaned resulted in 315 Democrats and 324 Republicans, well within the margin of error, since the percentages break down to 39.4 percent Democrats and 40.5 percent Republicans. Pretty much a statistical wash and much ado about nothing.
Sorry about getting all “mathy” there.
Loath as I am to quote Hillary, she pretty much summed up much of today’s hyperpartisan political landscape when she told Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, during that hearing: “I’m sorry that it doesn’t fit your narrative, Congressman, I can only tell you what the facts were.” Regardless of who says it, that can be applied to virtually any hot-button topic. It certainly applies to the majority of partisan talking points.
I couldn’t care less what people write about Hillary or any other candidate, as long as it’s factual and/or clearly opinion, and is printable in a family newspaper. Unfortunately, too much of what we receive on all sorts of topics treats opinion as fact when much of the time it’s just not. (Shocking, I know.) And yes, fact-checking is done on liberal letters, too, which also sometimes prove false. Still, little compares to the vitriol directed toward Hillary, much of which is based on long-debunked and/or overblown rumors and her husband’s (sometimes overhyped, sometimes not) pecadilloes.
I’m no great fan of Hillary and never have been; I’m drawn to people who are more genuine than she appears. Frankly, I’m not a fan of most current politicians as so many seem to highlight dystopia and paranoia rather than truth and public service. They don’t really make ’em like John Paul Hammerschmidt and Dale Bumpers anymore. And our current D.C. crop is certainly not as “forthcoming” as Honest Gil Fulbright. 😉
What has happened, as I’ve said many times before, is that “alternative” news sources that insert hefty doses of opinion in what they call news have inured the more partisan among us to judge mainstream news as being slanted if it doesn’t give equal weight to opinion (because, obviously, opinion is far more important than facts, so it needs at least the same amount of attention).
Most reputable newspapers work to keep the writers’ opinions out of news stories; if opinion is in the news sections, it is generally labeled as “analysis” or “review.” Most opinion, quite rightly, should remain on the opinion pages. That’s one of the reasons you’ll seldom see loaded words or phrases (defined as wording that attempts to influence by using appeals to emotion or stereotypes) like “smoking gun” in a news story we print in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette unless it’s in a quote.
After so much exposure to opinion masquerading as news, partisans then have the tendency to see news stories devoid of loaded language as being slanted. How dare we be factual!
And no, that’s not political correctness; it’s journalistic responsibility.
We’re far from the only newspaper that’s gotten such complaints. An August letter in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, for example, provided another perspective to a conservative reader’s complaint that the mainstream media wasn’t covering the “Obama administration’s deceptions in its presentation of Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s ‘blatant disregard of the president’s powers as outlined in the Constitution,’ and the ‘lies’ uttered by the Internal Revenue Service and State Department.”
Except, as reader and constitutional/legal historian Michael Les Benedict pointed out, it does, covering those topics at length … though not the way partisan media outlets do. “The problem with getting your news from ideological sources is that they report the opinions as facts,” Benedict wrote.
Ain’t that the truth … well, depending where you get your news. All it takes then is for that “news” to be repeated ad nauseam for it to become fact for partisans … pity the fact-checkers slammed for bias when they prove it wrong.
News is not a Reese’s cup; the peanut butter opinion does not belong in the chocolate news. Sorry if that bursts some partisans’ bubbles … OK, no, I’m not.
A final note to our veterans on this Veterans Day: Thank you for all you’ve done to keep us safe.
On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, I always think of my grandpa and uncle, both of whom served in the Navy; Grandpa Grover on the hospital ship USS Hope during World War II, and Uncle C.L. on the John F. Kennedy a couple of decades later. It’s because of men like them and their compatriots that we are free today.
I salute all of you.