Monday, January 23, 2012

Media Misinformation

My purpose in this blog about the Spherical Model is to raise awareness of the freedom and economic success that come from living civilizing principles. My purpose in spending time here talking about the political primaries has been to offer an alternative to the right/left way of looking at political philosophies.
A major concern I’ve had so far in this political season has been getting to the truth. So often what is common knowledge just isn’t so. I’m not an investigative journalist, so sometimes I can’t get to the truth either; I can only ask questions to raise awareness that we’re not getting it.
Over the weekend I came across a little piece about media bias. The Center for Media at George Mason University did a studymeasuring positive vs. negative reports on candidates at the three major news networks. Here are the percentages.

                  Candidate           % of Stories Positive       % of Stories Negative
                    Mitt Romney                    22%                                78%
                    Newt Gingrich                 52%                                48%
                    Rick Santorum                56%                                44%
                    Jon Huntsman                71%                                29%
                    Ron Paul                           73%                                27%
The study reveals that, the more viable and electable the media perceives the candidate, the more negative the portrayal.
What about Fox News, with their (probably inaccurate in relation to actual news reporting) conservative viewpoint? On their “Special Report” they portrayed Mitt Romney negatively 63% of the time and positively 37% of the time. Overall Fox News was found most balanced, with 52% positive and 48% negative stories.
Is it possible that there is that much actual negative to tell about Romney? When you look at the stories, the negatives are repeated until they are believed true. I’ve been through most of them in this blog, and most of the negatives are verifiably false.
Romney is consistently more conservative than Newt Gingrich, using their own words and their own records. Romney has lived as a cultural conservative his entire life and has a flawless record against abortion and for marriage, according to the most powerful voices on those issues. (Maggie Gallagher of National Organization for Marriage recently defended Romney, based on her personal work with him in Massachusetts.) Romney worked with an 85% liberal legislature and was able to balance the state budget, recover from deficit, and do it without raising taxes, which is downright amazing.
His state had a problem with health care funding, like many other states, because the federal government requires medical care of the uninsured, and people take advantage of that. The solution he wanted was to encourage more people to buy health insurance, through free-market incentives and state subsidies for low income earners, using existing private insurance sources. He nearly succeeded, but the leftists in his state insisted on changing incentives into penalties (what is called the mandate). And this is his Achilles heel?
What would Gingrich have done in a similar situation? First, he couldn’t have persuaded Massachusetts voters to let him try anything, because, using elementary school language, he doesn't play well with others. Second, according to his own words, his favorite presidents are FDR, Woodrow Wilson, and Teddy Roosevelt; he would have been philosophically comfortable with government-imposed programs.
The stories surrounding last week’s attack piece on Newt in the form of an interview with wife number two seemed orchestrated to give sympathy to Newt (and indeed contributed to an astounding shift in the South Carolina polls of 20 percentage points within half a week). Apparently the big accusation was whether Newt had asked wife #2 for an open marriage; but, while that sounds despicable to moral people and we’re willing to believe Newt when he says he didn’t ask for such a thing—the fact remains that he did want an open marriage, defined as having sex with someone in addition to his wife, because he was doing that without asking. That was kind of lost on the SC audience, which seemed titillated by the takedown Newt did on the debate moderator for daring to ask the question on everyone’s mind.
We like to think of ourselves as forgiving. I’m willing to believe Newt and wife Callista are contrite for the adultery they in fact committed—at the very time Newt was prosecuting Bill Clinton for his lies about adultery. But there is a difference between forgiving and trusting. Newt himself explained his behavior as a result of loving America too much. Well, the fact is, he hasn’t had a position of power since then to test his resolve to change. We can forgive his past massive sins without offering him our support as the most powerful leader in the world. Maybe we should even consider it our Christian duty not to put him in a position where he might be tempted beyond his strength to resist. In short, I have a hard time supporting a serial adulterer to represent our efforts toward civilization against a post-constitutional socialist who appears to be a good husband and father.
If we could just get the full truth about Romney, I believe we would see a preponderance of positives. And if we could just get the full truth about Gingrich, I believe we would see a preponderance of negatives. When we go up against the most negative president in my lifetime, I would prefer to do it with someone on the positive side of the balance sheet.

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