I don’t like to play politics. In fact I hate political banter. Sure if friends of mine start laying it on thick to a view that I oppose, I’ll state my opinion. And on occasion my friends and I have had some fairly heated discussions about certain hot topic government decisions. But all in all, I hate politics. I’m sure you’ve heard the joke, “What’s the true meaning of ‘Politics’? Well, Poly means many, and ticks are blood sucking insects. So there you go, Politics: Many blood sucking insects.” Honestly there are times when I wonder. So when all is said I have my views, you have yours, let’s not discuss them because it’s going to end in tears.
But this isn’t about politics and my distain for them. Rather this is about how we, as a country, have let the political punditry of national news networks like Fox News, CNN, et al, systematically divide and create the great chasm between us.
I will admit, at one point in time, I was a Fox News-aholic. It’s how I was brought up; it’s where I got my news. In recent years I have started watching CNN more. And up until probably the last three months, I don’t watch either. It’s not that I don’t want to be informed. In fact I believe that knowing what’s going on in the world is vital to being a Christian. How are we supposed to know where we are needed if we don’t know what’s going on in the world? If we didn’t watch the news, would we have known about the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and Turkey? Would we have been able to be so swift in the assisting of digging out and rebuilding these countries? Would millions of people still donate millions of dollars to the efforts? Probably not. In fact I think that without being informed and knowing what’s going on in the world, the Christian aid organizations would have a very minimal impact on the world compared to what they’re doing today.
All that said I still don’t watch the news. Here’s why. Let me ask you a question: What are Fox News’, CNN’s and other new networks’ main goal? Is it informing the world? No. Is it painting an accurate picture of what’s going on? No. Does it have ANYTHING to do with ANY sort of information education? Absolutely not. The ONLY goal of national news networks is to…drum roll please…sell advertising time. That’s right; you may think that CNN and Fox News have noble intentions on reporting. But in fact they are selling advertising space. Why else do you think that two bit hacks like Glen Beck and Keith Olbermann (although Olbermann was HILARIOUS on Sportscenter) have air time? Fox News is known to be more conservative in their reporting. So they’re going to draw the conservative crowds to watch. CNN is more the liberal side. It has nothing to do with news. Both of these networks play their political cards all under the veil of honest, news reporting. I remember during the last election, CNN ran the tagline, “CNN is Politics”. Wow, I didn’t know. So if CNN is politics, then Fox News must not be. But then Fox News was (and still is) billed as, “Fox News: Fair and Balanced”. Really? So that must mean that CNN isn’t fair OR balanced. But quite often these two networks report completely different news. While President Bush was in office, the poor guy couldn’t get a thing right according to CNN. According to CNN his entire two terms were faux pas. But according to Fox News he was doing alright. The things he was promoting and pushing forward might seem risky, but eventually will benefit our country and the world. But now with President Obama in office, it seems that the roles have switched. Fox News reports that President Obama is running this country into the ground, but CNN seems to paint a different, more optimistic view of the president. So who’s right? Neither. Both “report” the news with a heavy handed traditional or southpaw slant to it. The only news that they actually report is usually found in the headlines that come up as graphics on the bottom of the page, “So and so did such and such”. That’s all the actual news they report. Then they take 30-60 minutes of everyone’s time explaining how it’s a terrible or a great addition to our country. Both of these news networks have taken the credibility from the early days when they’d actually report news, and have drug it through the political hog trough to form the current news networks we call Fox News and CNN. All in the name of ratings; and the higher the ratings, the more companies will want to buy advertising time.
So what can we do with this mess? Where can we get our news? Well, I’ve devised a formula that can guide anyone through the political muck. It’s simply this: take the number of letters in the U.S.-based news network name (CNN would be 16, Cable News Network, Fox News Channel would be 14), multiply that by the year the network was founded (CNN:1980, FNC:1996), taken to the power of how many political pundits they employ (I don’t know this number, but I’m guessing it’s high), all divided by the number of minutes during the day they report opinion instead of news (there are only 1440 minutes in a day, but I’m guess both of these channels hover right around the 1300 range, maybe a little more for MSNBC). Take that total, write it on a piece of paper, crumple it up and throw it in a fire. Then turn the television to the BBC to get your news…or better yet watch the local news at 6 and 10 and mute it if there’s any political punditry.
So what can we do? How can we mend the chasm that Network News propaganda has cut? In the words of the late Johnny Cash from his song The One on the Right is on the Left, “Now this should be a lesson if you plan to start a folk group, Don’t go mixing politics with the folk songs of our land, Just work on harmony and diction, Play your banjo well, And if you have political convictions keep them to yourself.”