23 February 2006
Bennet and Dershowitz, Dershowitz and Bennet. Two more diametrically opposed figures are hard to find. And yet today they have an OP-ED piece in the Washington Post which, in my mind, cuts to the heart of our present conflict between the fourth estate and the governments of the West.
I am very concerned that our media and information outlets are operating in a realm where their information goes out unchecked and unbalanced. In the most recent and seemingly bening situation, the recent Olympic victory of Shani Davis was hailed as the first African-American gold medal at the olympics. This was later changed to black American and then modified again to reflect the fact that Vonetta Flowers achieved that distinction in Salt Lake City in 2002.
These are simple facts. They are easily checked, but due to the 24/7 news cycle and the pressure (my assumptions) to make sure the story is "saleable", facts often fall by the wayside in the quest for eyeballs. Matt Drudge is guilty of hyping stories which ultimately bear no fruit.
This problem is further exacerbated by the public's lack of deep review of these issues. Why read below the fold when I am sure the headline meets my expectations and I can pontificate endlessly about a topic for which I know nothing.
Some time ago, my father-in-law dropped a folded St. Petersburg Times on my lap. Look at this! He cried. It was a letter to the editor about the Fenholloway River in Florida. The letter, from a local enviro-activist, pointed out that a plan for a paper mill to dump waste directly into the river was moving through the system.
And yet, with a few deft keystrokes, what was revealed was far from the picture painted by the writer. The plant in quesiton was working desperately to comply with Florida law after being ambushed by enviro-activists who use a technical trick to have the Fenholloway River artificially upgraded in quality. It's a long story, but descriptive of the posture of much of the press today.
And so we return to Dershowitz and Bennet.
What can we do?
Continue to challenge false claims, dig deep into stories and demand truthful and factual representations of controversial topics (like the Danish cartoons).