Friday, April 10, 2009

An observation - which may or may not be objective.

I've decided that the only reason things like prejudice, racism, biases, narrow-minded, dismissive behavior and otherwise exclusionary choices regarding what we say, do and think exist in our very enlightened and "tolerant" world is because people - all people - don't recognize this behavior within themselves. [We do, however, claim to recognise it in everyone around us and make quite a big deal about how bigoted everyone else can be.] Otherwise, it seems we would work to change the very behaviors and beliefs we say we find unacceptable in others in our own daily interactions and communication.

My theory about invisible prejudgements and bias within ourselves has to the only reason the following makes any kind of logical sense. If I read this excerpt correctly, and heard this exchange correctly, David Gregory, host of Meet the Press on NBC, simply does not recognise bias within himself, even when it comes from his own mouth, on live television.

As published in Parade Magazine, regarding political bias and the media:

"I don't accept the proposition that I have an ideological point of view that comes through," [David] Gregory tells us. "I work very hard to avoid that. I recognize that because I succeeded Tim Russert after he died, this has not been a natural transition. A lot of viewers are taking my measure, and I understand and respect that."

Really? No ideological point of view that comes through? Then answer this, David Gregory. Recently on Morning Joe (MSNBC), during coverage of the President's trip to the G 20 Summit and other countries in Europe, Peggy Noonan asked you a question about the foreign language skills of President Obama and Michelle Obama – specifically whether or not either of them spoke French. Your (paraphrased) answer follows: You didn’t think so; you hadn’t heard President Obama speak French and you didn’t think he spoke the language. Of course, he would be much more likely to be able to speak it than his predecessor. [Italics my own.]

(…Derisive chuckles of agreement all around the crowd around the desk that day….)

I’m confused.

Did Noonan ask you about President Bush? Did he factor into this answer at all? Did she ask you to compare the foreign language skills of our last two or three presidents and I missed it? Is there a reason you had to refer – even indirectly - to George W. Bush in your answer?

I have a hot piece of news for many in the media. Perhaps you missed it: President Bush is no longer our commander-in-chief. You want to comment on his policies or his decisions that you believe had an impact on our current situation at home and abroad? By all means; but save it for your editorials, not your reporting.

You want to comment on any of his perceived social shortcomings? Fine, but save it for your cocktail parties, not the "unbiased" airtime you occupy.

And in any event, man up about it. (Another way of stating my original premise: we should recognise this within ourselves and own it.) Don't claim you have no ideological point of view and then make snide comments about people who are not on your side of the aisle, especially when the mikes are open.


Chris Casey said...

Renee, I like what you have to say, about admitting we have a bias. My beef is with those who claim they have no agenda, while using their platform to launch politically motivated attacks against those they see as opponents. My agenda is good government, and that offends some. Oh well.

renee said...

Thanks, Chris. I suspect detractors attack your agenda by posing this question: Who defines what is meant by the phrase 'good government?'

Reasonable, thoughtful people can disagree about that; and - in theory anyway - debate that question.

All it requires is intellectual honesty. That seems to be in very short supply these days.