A note on Conservative commentary

I guess the title of this post could also be “Ann Coulter: Proud to be Biased.” I know this will surprise many readers, but I do like to check out some conservative writers and blogs on a regular basis. I do this in an effort to check my own biases and to observe what it is that conservatives are bitching about this week. Today, I checked out Ann Coulter’s site and was disapointed as usual. Why Ann Coulter? Is it for her stunningly insightlful commentary? Is it for her wry sense of humor? No, it is because she is one HOT conservative woman!

Anyway…Today Ann starting bitching about the liberal media. Big surprise, right? Her gripe about the big bad liberal media today? That opinion polls are used to “brainwash” the public. I find it striking of course that she does not bitch at conservative media sources for publishing the same sort of opinion polls. I guess as long as the pollster is asking questions like “Do you think the Iraqi people are better off today than before the war?” are doing a fine job of informing the public, but if they ask “Do you approve of the President’s strategy in Iraq?” then they are blasphemous traitors guilty of telling the public what they think.

But, let me try to get past the divisive political rhetoric for a second and actually look at some of the things Ann has to say. Maybe she makes sense, right? Below is a couple of sentences from Ann’s article, followed by a brief commentary. Please do not sue me for borrowing your words, okay Ann?

At least the old subliminal ads for popcorn in movie theaters operated by stealth. Today’s mainstream media engage in open conditioning of the public in a fantastical scheme to shift public opinion.

Noticeably, there’s always an odd disconnect between what the polls say and what people actually do.

-Ann Coulter’s copyrighted words, 2006

First, I have to give Ann credit for the first part. Why? Well, at least she sets aside her hatred of the liberal media to include all “mainstream media” in her indictment. On this account, her and I agree. The major media outlets are unfortunately in the business of formulating and crafting the news in such a way that public opinion can not help but be affected. 2 problems exist here though:

1. Ann is a big part of this system. Just look at her damn website; she actually has a link entitled “Reading for Right Wingers.” Is this her idea of informational media? Under the link titled “Patriot Links,” we find one major news source of course. Can we all say it in tandem now: Fox News! That’s right, because as we all know, patriots only watch Fox News for its “Fair and Balanced” reporting.

2. The primary way that big media create public opinion is by filtering what news we do and do not hear and see. However, what really can we expect from big corporations that operate these outlets as money making entitites. They are not a public service. They do not have the incentive to report on everything that is going on in the world. The public does not expect them to be unbiased anymore. Sure 100 years ago maybe the general public expected some sort of “objective” reporting, but we were naive to think that even then. Mass media has always been used for some purpose, primarily to sell content and not to inform.

Lastly, Ann has the stunning insight that people’s actions are strangely “disconnected” from what the opinion polls say. No? Really? Wow, Ann that is…Wait, what? Duuhh, Ann. This is a truism of almost all people everywhere. Did you just figure this out? People have no idea what they want or how to get it. This is nothing new. For instance, most people (I would venture) have at least some concern for the Earth’s environment. Nevertheless, people could do a hundred things with their everyday lives to help change the rate of environmental degradation. Do they do it? Hell no. “It’s too difficult.” “I can not give up my SUV.” Hell, most of the time people have no idea that what they actually DO has an impact on the world. People are much more likely to say that they want or desire something than actually DO anything about it.

For instance, I try to read conservative commentary in order to challenge my own assumptions about the world. But, everytime I do I am confounded by the very people I have turned to and walk away disgusted. I know what I want from your commentary, but that does not mean I find it.

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