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When O’Reilly Gets it Wrong, When Olbermann Gets it Right?

August 18, 2010

I don’t do politics. It’s not that I’m not interested in it; it’s just that I butt heads on enough topics that, like religion, I’m not inclined to argue about politics. I can live and let live. What does bother me, though, and what I will discuss, is when news channels, and the people who work for them, distort, twist, contort and flat out get wrong the facts, like details regarding the “ground zero mosque.” How can I get upset with people who listen to the news, which they trust to give them the truth, who go and share the stories they’ve heard on the NEWS? I don’t think, in all fairness, I can and so I don’t.

People trust the news organizations to get it right, to tell the facts.

I can and do get frustrated at news organizations that have forgotten how to report on current events. It doesn’t seem to matter which news channel you turn on; what you get is a lot of commentary without a lot of facts. It’s become like, oh, I don’t know, Huffington Post, lots of woo and ideology rather than factual information and reason.

I turn on the news to find out what’s going on in the world. I’d like to have access to the bare-bones of the story; what are the facts that are known? How about reporting it impartially?

That’s not what is happening regarding the “ground zero mosque.” At least some of the folks at Fox News finally have the two blocks away part correct.

Schlesinger writes in the USNews that it’s not at ground zero and it’s not a mosque.

Bill O’Reilly’s been talking about the mosque a lot.

http://videos.mediaite.com/embed/player/?layout=&playlist_cid=&media_type=video&content=5N5FDH1S8W5MBYB9&widget_type_cid=svp

O’Reilly (and I’ve got all his books and read them) continues to push this as a mosque and that 9/11 families are against this. I don’t know if they are. He certainly doesn’t know, either, despite his claim that 85%-80% of Long Island 9/11 families don’t want it there. Even commentators are willing to take a few conversations with some folks and conflate it with an accurate representation of how large groups feel. Heck, I’m sure if you frame it as a “do you support a mosque at ground zero?” question, you’ll have a knee-jerk reaction from lots of people that of course they don’t.

The problem is that this isn’t honest reporting. It’s misleading and it fosters hate. And, despite the fact that I am far more likely to watch O’Reilly than Olbermann, Olbermann is reporting on the actual situation and offering a compelling argument and he’s not doing it through the use of  exaggeration, made-up statistics and inflammatory rhetoric (not one hammer will work on it, says O’Reilly).

I don’t have a problem if you’re against a Muslim community center two blocks away from ground zero; you’ve informed yourself of the situation and you’ve formed an opinion based on the actual situation. And I’m sure not interested in having an argument about it. I’m still gathering information and trying to get to all the facts about it.

We need to collectively as a society begin to question inflammatory claims, to try to get to the facts at hand, and to avoid forming strong opinions on things before we’ve looked into it. There’s no harm in refusing to choose a position when you don’t have all the facts. In fact, it’s the reasonable position to take.

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