Apr. 27, 2017

TITLE: Are You Unfairly Balanced?

For Southpaws, a significant part of life involves peering out at a distorted world through the misshapen lens of a tiny fishbowl.

Noted fishbowl manufacturer Fox News BILLS itself (oh, that's right, they fired that guy) REPRESENTS itself as being "Fair and Balanced." It's a key part of their pitch. That it's a one-stop-shop for news, information, and game show host-quality white teeth. There's no need to look elsewhere because they painstakingly curate the entire gamut of human experience and present it in one neat package. As if you'd accept one doctor's opinion. Or shop at only one store. Or eat at only one restaurant.

Some Fox viewers convince themselves they are dining at a buffet rather than standing at a trough by augmenting the menu with sources like the Drudge Report, Breitbart News, Rush Limbaugh, Infowars, and others that are even more right-wing than Fox.

Wrong direction.

We all know people who will change the channel if they walk into a room where another family member is watching a non-Fox show. One rightie friend of mine refers to Rachel Maddow as "that little boy on MSNBC." But we're all so mean.

To my mind, if a person's exposure to liberal thought is limited to Fox commentators like Juan Williams, Shepard Smith, Kirsten Powers, or others they're simply not getting the complete picture. Don't get me wrong, those personalities often say things that any liberal would agree with but, don't fool yourself, each is also keenly aware of exactly where the line is -- the line on which Fox signs their paychecks -- to keep those big-dollar contracts and booking fees continuing.

And, yes, righties, libs can fall into the same trap when they get all their news and information from those august organs of Communist orthodoxy: CNN, the New York Times, or the Washington Post; not to mention MSNBC, the Huffington Post, or -- God help us! -- Free Speech TV.

I have lib friends who, when I tell them I read far-right sites (generally at night in bed with my phone balanced on my wife's ideally-shaped posterior as we both doze off) ask me how I can stand them. These sites ARE tough to stomach. Ninety-percent of what I see there makes me think I should keep an air sickness bag within arms' reach.

But listening beyond the soothing, dulcet tones is what it means to be truly informed. Further, being receptive to only part of the vast spectrum of thought demeans America's reputation for having an open-minded citizenry suspicious of simple solutions to complex problems. Solutions that play to fear and prejudice while just happening to dovetail with the to do lists of the ridiculously wealthy and powerful.

But, I have to admit: Even more than that, there's the 10%. The 10% that makes me think there's something THERE. Something I'm not getting from leftie outlets alone. And, I would argue, a person who is only tuned in to Fox/Rush/Breitbart is missing the critical 10% of liberal opinion that would actually make sense to them but they will NEVER hear from any conservative outlet.

Hey, I'm not telling anyone what to do, but it's been my experience that a considerable number of people who binge solely on a Fox-Drudge-Brietbart diet have a someone, a loved one in their life who worries about their increasingly calcified of thought as much as the calcium in their bones.

So, righties, let me ask you a question: Who's your favorite CNN or MSNBC host? The one you could tolerate watching at least once in a while. Wolf Blitzer? Jake Tapper? Joe Scarborough? Greta van Sustern? Move out of that comfort zone. Next time that someone walks into the room, surprise them with Wolf or Jake or Joe or Greta. After they've picked themselves up off the floor tell them, "Well, how can I claim to be right if I don't expose myself to things that make me uncomfortable every once in a while?"

See you next time.

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Charles Carr has written well over a thousand columns and articles for the Union-Tribune, the Orange County Register, the Californian, Parent Magazine, and many others. He's also a playwright with many of his shows appearing at prominent So Cal venues and co-founder of the indie studio Art Animates Life Films. Contact him at charles@carrfamily.com.