To the Editor:
Some 30 years ago about 33 national broadcast companies existed. Today approximately five provide an extremely limited and controlled source of information for a population of more than 360 million. These broadcast companies know their audience and “frame” their message to appeal to their particular populations. While the presentation varies, when we look beyond the framing, the message stays amazingly consistent across networks. As a result, we Americans remain largely in the dark as to the ramifications of many of the laws and policies that directly affect us but have an overblown sense of being well-informed. It might be safe to say that we the American public are high on confirmation bias and on fixation of our preconceived notions, overconfident in our opinions, and rigidly persistent in our beliefs — without much evidence to support most of our conclusions.
We watch with feverish attention, staged and carefully scripted debates. The so-called “non-partisan” Commission on Presidential Debates tightly controls the content but never fails to deliver up a well-orchestrated but low-on-substance theatrical extravaganza. Though the commission strictly forbids any voice other than the narrow and well-rehearsed perspectives of the GOP and Democratic parties, we believe because we are told to believe, that these spectacles provide us with a broad and informed perspective.
The statement, “He who owns the news, makes the news” holds true for our current times. To find a developed nation more propagandized than today’s USA, we have to step several decades back in time. Propaganda is made of lies that are framed to look like truths.
Blinded by our propaganda, we have become a nation that believes these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created unequal, and that some more than others are endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In this great nation, many believe the ludicrous assertion that class warfare is perpetrated by the powerless and disenfranchised poor upon the privileged and influential wealthy. We are provoked to love Jesus but hate our neighbor if he or she is different. We can patriotically wave the flag for God and Country but can- not enjoy the freedom to assemble non-violently in protest. Pseudo-scientists are popularly supported, while valid scientific evidence is deemed ridiculous. It is the moon that shines by day, the sun by night and we believe because our favorite ideology says it is so.
Somewhere, though, there is truth but it is not to be found in the well-framed propaganda of our selected network or our favorite polarized website. Truth is always elusive and even more so in an environment where it is deliberately and methodically obviated. Though allusive and challenging to ascertain, truth is always here to be unearthed.
Truth does not support one party or another. Truth informs and educates. It is often inconvenient. We discover truth when we challenge our bias, when we let go of imbedded two party fixations, and when we question the reliability of our propagandized opinions.