Friday, June 20, 2008

What's wrong with US politics and the media? Arianna Huffington explains (video)

Arianna figured it out, so why can't you?

Personally I've always been reluctant to label myself as a "lefty" (exept for my left-handedness). The label puts one on a two dimensional political line that does not sufficiently describe the variety of personal wisdom that is out there; it definitely doesn't describe my personal beliefs very well.

The real reason that North America has fallen into the two-dimensional politics trap is of course the FPTP-system; when there really only can be two valid candidate parties that nominate for governing the country (US: Democrats or Republican - Canada: Liberals or Conservatives) one will start to see everything through this two dimensional lense.

Here's What Arianna Huffington has to say about this:

In fact, what I'm saying is that when we look at everything in politics through that prism of right versus left, we really fall into the trap of assuming that the truth, the correct thing to do is by splitting the difference. And that is a major problem, because as I say in the book again and again, the truth is very often on one side or the other. [...]

[What] I'm saying is that first of all we should stop using that shorthand of right versus left, especially since on the major issues of our time, positions that used to be considered left-wing, like bringing the troops home from Iraq, some form of universal health care, and doing something about global warming, all those things are now solidly mainstream. You know, we have 60, 70 percent of Americans who believe in those positions. It's not that the left has suddenly expanded itself; it's that the center has shifted. But the American media haven't really noticed it.

The mainstream media didn't notice, or doesn't want to notice?
PALEVSKY: And what has been the fault of the US media? I mean, we saw it clearly after 9/11 in the media and the run-up to the war. And, you know, The New York Times and many of the big media outlets have come out and said, "We didn't fully do our job." But now they seem to be trying to make up for it. What is it now? What is the media missing when you watch the news?

HUFFINGTON: Well, we really have the same problem. We have the meme that the surge is working. It's still being mindlessly repeated by the media. And even as violence was escalating, we would have the media keep the same meme, the surge is working, even though it wasn't even just about violence. Remember, the surge supposedly was there to give the Iraqis a breathing space to reach some kind of political reconciliation. That has been completely forgotten as a benchmark. So the media are following the conventional wisdom. This is probably the worst thing you can say about the media. And that's why I have special sections on Dean Russert, whom I call the conventional wisdom zombie, and Bob Woodward, who's an icon of American journalism, who has had unparalleled access to the White House, but [in] his first two books during the Bush administration years completely missed the story of how we're misled to war.
See the whole interview below:

- The Real News: Huffington breaks down the media
- Wikipedia: FPTP or Single Winner Voting System

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