Sunday, September 16, 2012

I Don't Know (Spoiler Alert)

If you haven't been watching HBO's show Newsroom, you really should be.  I don't know if I can overstate how brilliant this show is.  Olivia Munn being on it just a bonus.

If you haven't watched it, and do not want spoilers, you may not want to read any further.

It highlights how broken our corporate media is and the false equivalency of the two major American political parties they push on us.  The news hasn't reported the news in years.  Corporate media caved to money a long time ago.  They now care more about ratings than truth.  They care more for the perception of balance than for accountability.  They care more about being first than being right.

Newsroom showed the craven need for ratings on the episode about the Tuscon shooting & the fact that the supposed news networks reported that she was dead.  Since she's alive today, it's safe to say they got wrong.

With the anchor on the air, the staff is attempting to piece together what happened and what is going on.  When NPR reports that Giffords is dead, the other networks all jump on it and repeat the inaccurate report. With the news people at ACN (Newsroom's fictional network) refusing to report that Giffords was dead, the  company president storms into the studio to tell them about how many viewers they're losing by not reporting the death.  He was more worried about ratings than truth.

The real news networks all care more about ratings, so they all got it wrong.  They didn't need the benefit of hindsight that the writers of Newsroom have.  They just needed to actually follow journalistic standards of verification instead of making shit up or assuming.  The fictional company president and the real news networks are all afraid to say "I don't know."  They have this fear because their viewers have this fear.  People are afraid of saying "I don't know."

Comfort with "I don't know" as an answer is the biggest difference I've noticed between theists and atheists.  When I discuss religion with theists, they are almost always not comfortable with stopping at "I don't know."  While some atheists also have this particular issue, for most atheists, "I don't know" is a necessity.  We don't have the luxury of making up an answer or accepting one we do not know to be true.

The world needs more people admitting they don't know.  If people were capable of that, we would have less of the travesty of 24 cable news and less of the abomination that is organized religion.

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