Sunday, July 22, 2007

I have started listening to a few different podcasts that keep me up to speed on politics. One is the Slate daily podcast, which includes a weekly "gabfest" each Friday-- a nice run down of the big stories of the week. John Dickerson, Emily Plotz and Emily Bazelon are a nice trio. Second is the NPR story of the day, which is one insightful story from the various NPR news shows.

However, by far the most interesting podcast of late has been from ABC News, and Jake Tapper. I was not familiar with Jake and his work before I signed up for the podcast, but I find him very insightful and thorough-- much like my favorite Tim Russert.

A week ago, Jake invited a conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt to his show. The discussion is an insightful and provacative case study into the current conservative criticisms of the media. Mr. Hewitt used an artful socratic method to turn the interview on Jake and claim that he was a member of the liberal media elite. He believes strongly that the media are liberals at heart and therefore, whether they want to or not, tend to report with a liberal bias. He believes this is why people are no longer looking to the mass media for their news.

Hewitt delivers his oversimplifications with authority-- No doubt this is how he performs his talk show on the radio. After listening to the podcast a few times, here's my take:

There's no doubt we all have biases, and the media have their biases as well. We must give reporters the benefit of the doubt when they say they are trying to be objective, but at the same time, we have to assume that reporters have a point-of-view. We cannot rely on one reporter-- or even a couple of reporters-- to give us an accurate picture of what's happening. We should rely on a variety of sources.

My mom is a good example. She is a loyal listener of Rush Limbaugh, except she is an independent who voted Democratic in the recent election. By listeining to Rush, she can see through a lot of his arguments.

By the same token, getting reports from a variety of sources is hard. Case in point: me. I read the New York Times, watch the Today Show, rely on MSNBC pretty regularly, enjoy Tim Russert, and also download the podcasts noted above. By definition, my news tilts slightly left. I really should try to read something conservative for balance, but unfortunately, it doesn't interest me... Perhaps I should start listening to Mr. Hughes' show? : )

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