Home > Uncategorized > BLOG 7: Que Sera Sera, What We’ll Want, We’ll Watch

BLOG 7: Que Sera Sera, What We’ll Want, We’ll Watch

Here are some commonly accepted truths: first, that the Earth is a sphere and spends much of its year rotating around the sun, second, that no matter what teams play, the best part of the Super Bowl always has and always will be the commercials, and third, that Democrats hate Fox News and Republicans hate MSNBC and I, frankly, hate both.

Fox News, bastion of conservatism and entertaining, if more-than-slightly off-the-rocker, TV personalities such as Glenn Beck, and MSNBC, anchor for liberalism and not-so-ironic paneled discussions that debate such vital issues as Obama’s decision in pets, are used as the stereotypical, unparalleled examples of Liberal and Conservative bias in the media. While the presence of that bias in-and-of-itself is a separate discussion, there’s no debate that Republicans, on the whole, turn to Fox News for information while Democrats, as a whole, turn to CNN, MSNBC, or NPR.

The question then is–does it actually matter?

Here’s the thing you’ll learn in any middle-to-upper level political science (or even psychology) course: people consume that media which reinforces their existing biases. That is to say, whether or not Fox News or MSNBC offer biased accounts of political coverage is hardly a concern. Whether or not the Republican and Democratic mainstays presented balanced coverage, viewers would still only really consume that information that reinforced what they already believed in.

In my opinion, this, subsequently, makes forced consumption of opposing sources less than effective. Here’s the deal. It’s pretty obvious what my political ideology is. I choose not to consume CNN or MSNBC because, frankly, both stations irritate the hell out of me. However, when comparing information from CNN to information from Fox, I will always be more inclined to believe CNN because Fox is my ideological opposite. Fox can report breaking news to me and I will be skeptical of it until I hear the same information reported from the New York Times or even Jon Stewart.

In that manner, it doesn’t really matter if Republicans get their news from one source and I get my news from another. In an ideal world, both Republicans and Democrats would get their political news from both left and right leaning sources. But in reality, and in my opinion, there’s little point in forcing a Republican to watch Democratic sources and a Democrat to watch Republican sources if neither the Republican nor the Democrat are going to believe the source or retain the information.

As there are fact-checkers, keeping those sources legitimate, as long as the possibility to explore the other side still exists, there’s really no harm and no foul in letting Republicans and Democrats gravitate to those sources that support their ideology. Hey, it makes political debates that much more entertaining, right?

Either way, my solution is to force everyone to watch the Stewart-Colbert line up. Of course, inevitably, someone will believe that Colbert’s bias isn’t blatantly obvious satire and that he actually believes the things that he says and I’ll have to laugh at them. It will be a desperate, sad sort of laugh. But you know. Small steps! xoxo!

  1. April 3, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    But what if there weren’t these partisan sources of FOX, MSNBC, etc.? What if we had just network news to watch, and network news, in an effort to attract a mass audience, provided news that was generally balanced. Would this situation be a better one for democracy than the one we have now where partisans self-select information that fits their worldview?

    Does learning about politics and the world from partisan sources make it even more difficult for partisans to talk to each other, because they are informed by fundamentally different news viewpoints?

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