It’s the next thing. The next attempt to confuse, confound and discombobulate the American voter. It is what I call “Fake Bias”.
It goes like this.
All news is biased. Everyone is biased. Everything is biased. So, you cannot believe anything. Anywhere. Ever. It’s all just someone’s opinion. One source is just as good as another source.
Like the wife who is caught in “flagrante delicto ” with the neighbor in bed. Her husband walks in. The evidence (so to speak)is staring him in the face. He accuses her of infidelity. The neighbor is right there beside her. “There is no one here,” she says. “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?”
When I taught school I noticed that in the last 15 years or so a new attitude had developed about “experts”. During discussions some students often fell back on the attitude that all opinions are equal. All hold equal weight. “It’s just an opinion”.
According to the Oxford dictionary definition: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
So, to some extent the kids were correct. Everyone’s opinion may be based on , well, just nothing at all.
But some opinions are based on more than thin air or preconceived notions. Some opinions are based on evidence, data and experience. The danger occurs when ALL opinions are lumped together as equally valid. They are not.
Over the last 30 years, intensifying recently, is the attitude that there is something negative about “expertise”. Experts are know-it-alls. They think they are smarter than other people. Obama thought he was the smartest guy in the room. (He usually was). Experts are smartypants and should be put in their place. Aha! The so-called experts were wrong.
This is a sea change from when I was growing up. Back in the 1950s and 1960s we were encouraged to go to school. To become educated. To become an expert in some field.That was the road to respect. The idea that you SHOULD be an educated person with a degree of expertise was encouraged. And respected.
When my students would take the position that “all opinions” are equally valid I would give them some examples to think about.
You feel a pain in your side. You ask your grandmother’s opinion. You ask the opinion of the bagboy at the grocery store. You pay for your gas and ask the gas station attendant what he thinks is wrong. You ask your family doctor They all have opinions.Do you think all those opinions are equally valid? Do you follow the advice of grandma and eat some chicken soup or do you follow the advice of your doctor and get an X-ray?
Some people have opinions based on evidence and facts. Shall we take a survey of passengers on JetBlue and ask the best way to land the plane? Or should we defer to the pilot in this area? And while this pilot may be a genius in how to fly a plane, he may know nothing about growing corn. Expertise is limited. And specific.
Which brings me back to “Fake Bias”.
There is an attempt by the far right wing to destroy the very idea that news can be “unbiased”. That facts exist. It goes beyond claiming that certain networks have editorial policies that are biased. They do. MSNBC has been anti-Trump and Fox News has been pro-Trump. The bias is clear.
But that does not mean that both sides don’t use facts, even if selectively. And it does not change the fact that news can be factual. The idea that all news is biased is the argument of those who do not want honest, evidence based reporting. Because they cannot justify gun violence, for example, they call reporting of gun violence “biased”. They cannot justify putting children in cages, so they claim that other presidents put children in cages. Bias. Fake.
The end game of the attacks on “lugenpresse” (covered in another post linked below) is to deny the existence of objective reality. If everything is biased then nothing can be believed. A most dangerous attitude. Putin must be as happy a pig in doo-doo. He is getting exactly what he paid for. Fake bias.