The evolution of 'talk TV' and the internet blogosphere has made it incredibly easy to read about topics and formulate an opinion. Heck, if I wanted to learn about 'health care reform', I'd type it into Google and I get about 22,900,000 results I get to choose from. If I wanted to learn about 'energy reform' I could turn on MSNBC, CNN, or FOX news and get commentator after commentator giving me their view on the situation. Problem is, if I read all 22,900,000 results and watched all 3 of the channels I listed(that's a busy day)….I don't think I'd be any more educated on health care or energy reform than I am now. How is that possible?
This evolution has also seemed to include a new definition or purpose of these "news" channels or "news" blogs. Now, there really is very little reporting of the news…more commenting on the news. This happens via TV, radio, or internet. Watching or reading about the news has never been as entertaining, but unfortunately, it comes at a price. Too often people will debate and use false information from one of these sources as the basis of their argument. To them, it absolutely IS a fact and therefore (in their mind) they have a tight, solid argument(heck, they heard it on the news, it must be true). They might be correct too if what they were basing their argument on had any legitimacy at all. However in the end, you are then left with two people debating a topic based on 2 totally different sets of 'facts'….is it any wonder why the aura of partisanship is so thick right now?
Case in point: the 'birther' movement….there is a fairly large (and growing) portion of our population that believes or questions whether or not President Obama was born in the United States. Why? Because of a rumor cooked up a while back and kept alive by bloggers, some on FOX news, and CNN. You'd think those that actually question this would simply look for a copy, like the ones posted here: http://fightthesmears.com/articles/5/birthcertificate?fc_c=1378032x2896433x111239450 . But, one person's "news" is another's "rhetoric" and visa versa. There are just enough of those willing to talk about or post false information to keep the public confused.
How are we, the public, supposed to remain educated on a topic? Is it better to get the news from a few sources or 22 million sources? How do we know something we read or hear isn't some goofball's opinion based on a different goofball's opinion? I can honestly say I don't know. I grow increasingly concerned because as our country is faced with difficult decision after decision, the opinion that is given the most leverage is NOT based on what's right or what makes the most sense..it is the opinion PAID for to be heard the loudest and most often. Coming into the August recess we are going to be bombarded by health insurance advertisements. Their ads won't be based on 'facts' or what is best for all Americans, they'll be based on what is best for their industry. They'll cleverly shroud them talking about "government takeover" and "government deciding when you die" etc.…no facts, just rhetoric. Somehow, after years of raping citizens for higher premiums and lower payouts, they'll suggest that now they're looking out for the little guy. I am worried that regardless of how nonsensical their argument may be, they'll be heard very loudly and very often…just enough to fool us.