There’s a tendency in this country to draw parallels where none exist. It is often said, for example, that, with the advent of Fox News and various right-wing radio talk shows, a balance to the ‘liberal media’ has been achieved. But whether it is true in some instances that some media sources may lean to the left as it were, there is no evidence to suggest that these sources just make things up to suit their political views.
Even today, on the Washington Journal, conservative columnist Mona Charen spent most of her time disputing the reporting done by those she described as liberal or just anti-Bush right from the start, dismissing out of hand Judith Miller’s complicity in support of administration positions in the run-up to the war. She even maintained that Saddam Hussein forced inspectors to leave Iraq when it is common knowledge that President Bush had to call them out so that he could invade.
In fact it has become increasingly difficult to find widely disseminated liberal views other than on the editorial pages of, say, the NY Times, a few magazines and a small number of radio broadcasts . Besides, liberal opinion pieces are more than balanced by those of the Wall Street Journal, and the NY Post among others and nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh engages in some devilishly misleading, factually insufficient ramblings. But, more significantly, the so-called ‘liberal’ point of view often wraps itself around humanitarian issues as in the writings of Times columnists Bob Herbert and Nicholas Kristoff. It might be an interesting exercise to ask some of those on the far right what it is they disagree with when these writers address such matters as ethnic cleansing and world hunger, or as some would have us call it “low food security.”
And just when you might have thought there would be a new era of comity and a bit of a breather before newly-elected members of Congress took their places, no such pleasant interval has occurred. The inventors of issues are back at their divisive work promoting matters that don’t belong at the forefront of political dialogue in the first place. Values proponents, who profess among other things to be protecting marriage and human life by railing against gays and abortion, continue to rally behind gun owners of every description and to ignore staggering divorce statistics. Comedienne Wanda Sykes suggested in her routine that in order to protect marriage, divorce would need to be outlawed. Of course, she continued, the murder rate would go up.
And those poor dancing penguins, little propagandists all according to broadcaster Glenn Beck, because some passing comment is made in the animated film about the trouble penguins were having finding food due to over fishing in the waters of the Arctic. Just let me know what’s what, says Beck, so that when I take my children to such a film I can tell them they are about to see a bunch of propaganda. More to the point is there, in fact, over-fishing and is global warming affecting the food supply for these little creatures? Propaganda is fiction not commentary about what can be observed.
Of course Beck is the genius who interviewed the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. Saying that, while he meant no disrespect, he couldn’t help but wonder, as others must, if this man might represent a threat of some sort. Congressman Ellison made him “nervous”, Beck said. And O’Reilly has been exorcised by the fact that Ellison was sworn in with his hand on the Koran as opposed to the Bible. Presumably the point of placing one’s hand on a religious book is that the person holds to the values described in that book. If the Koran is the book of record for a Muslim surely it makes sense to use it at a swearing-in ceremony rather than the Bible, unless one’s election to Congress is meant to engender an on-the-spot conversion.
There has been no letup in the harangues served up by the right – – everything from Nancy Pelosi’s appearance to the agenda those ‘lefties’ in the Democratic Party are bound to propose. Gosh, imagine negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies for better prices in the huge Plan D subscription plan. Already the propaganda, and it is real propaganda is swirling around Washington – – that lower prices would impinge on the drug industry’s ability to conduct proper research and development, this from an industry whose budget for marketing far exceeds that for research and development. Ever wonder what all those TV commercials that end up with “ask your doctor” cost?
And just imagine David Frum asked recently if the first thing Republicans did when they assumed control of Congress was to enact subsidies for the oil companies, something they had of course done in the last Congress. But look at what the Democrats are planning – – new education subsidies for students. Lord what diabolical scheme will they come up with next?
Hope springs eternal it has been said, but the constant assaults on the new Congress are exhausting. The public is said to have been turned off by all the negativity in the last election. One can only hope that is a valid assessment and that the right-wing spin machine will be forced to wind down and that the word balance is not used simply to ignore facts and replace them with ideological claptrap.

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