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December 30, 2004

Trust Fall

Hugh Hewitt posted a list of questions he'd like to see answered by the mainstream media reporters and talking heads.

Everyone brings baggage to the reporting of the news. Some of us lay that background out for the world to see --most reporters don't. A sure sign of something to hide is the hiding of something, and the unwillingness of MSM to tell us about their staffs is a giveaway that the lack of intellectual diversity in the newsroom is a scandal.

What questions would I like answered? Very simple ones: For whom did the reporter vote for president in the past five elections? Do they attend church regularly and if so, in which denomination? Do they believe that the late-term abortion procedure known as partial birth abortion should be legal? Do they believe same sex marriage ought to be legal? Did they support the invasion of Iraq? Do they support drilling in ANWAR?

Apparently he's gotten a fair amount of negative feedback for what seems to me to be a fairly innocuous list of questions. I must admit, aside from one blogger who implicitly compared Hewitt to a 15th century Spanish Inquisitor, I was unable to find any real vociferous responses, though Darn Floor basically says "We know what the answers would be already, so what's the point in asking the question?"

Most of the responses I've found are along the lines of "fair's fair. I'd like to see the answers to those questions, but it behooves me to list mine first." Friend of Hraka the SeaBlogger posted his answers, as did the TurkeyBlog, DaddyPundit, A Large Regular, and one of the Pajama Pundits.

Where I think Hugh left himself open for criticism, is that--at least so far--he hasn't answered those questions himself.

A rejoinder to that objection might run along the lines of "If you read my blog, you'd know."

Well, yea, but I've watched CBS News long enough that I'm pretty sure I know what Dan Rather's responses would be, too. That's not the point. I'm not interested in what a person's answers to the ten questions would be so much as I am interested in knowing whether or not they are willing to answer them. For me, it's an exercise in openness, supposedly the strength of the blogosphere, (especially as opposed to the MSM) rather than in bias per se.

So, speaking of openness, my answers;

Whom did I cast my vote for president for in the past five elections?

2004 - Bush
2000 - Gore
1996 - Clinton
1992 - Clinton
1988 - Dukakis

Do I attend church regularly and if so, in which denomination? Yes, but only for the good of the children. Once they're off to college, I'm outta there. Methodist.

Do I believe that the late-term abortion procedure known as partial birth abortion should be legal? Yes and No. Depends on the age of the fetus. I support the exercise of choice up to the viability boundary, which I have established as 23 weeks. I believe the Right-to-Life movement would get a better return for its money if it invested its effort and money in the development of medical advances that either lower the viability threshold or increase the likelihood of emotional investment on the part of the parent in the fetus.

Do I believe same sex marriage ought to be legal? Yes, as long as there is an open bar at the reception.

Marriage as a religious issue is between two people, the minister or priest, and their god. If a Christian church doesn't want to bless two men with the sacrament of marriage, more power to them. If a Unitarian church does, then more power to them. We'll happily attend both--just keep the liquor flowing.

Marriage as a state issue is a different thing. The vast majority of services offered by the state are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sex, skin color, physical handicap, or sexual preference. There is no reason for the state service of civil marriage to be any more discriminatory that the state service of obtaining a driver's license is. If the state does not wish to join together two person of the same sex in matrimony, then the state should get out of the marriage business entirely.

Did I support the invasion of Iraq? Yes.

I don't give a shit if Bush is a drooling moron run by corporate interests or a puppet with Dick Cheney's hand stuck up his ass, wiggling his fingers to make George's mouth move. I don't care if the only reason we invade Iraq is to ensure Exxon's corporate profits. That's not the point.

I don't care what France has to say, or China, or Russia, or Germany. That's not the point either.

I don't care if Saddam is a threat to us or not. I don't care if Saddam has nuclear weapons, anthrax, smallpox, or just a largish pointy stick in his arsenal. We should be bombing him on general principles, those general principles being the ones at the beginning of the Declaration of Independence...

Do I support drilling in ANWR? Yes, as long as said drilling is tied to increased CAFE standards.

I doubt these answers will come as much of a surprise to any of Hraka's readers, which cover the entire range of the political spectrum despite our best efforts at driving them off. I like to think that they regard us with the same attitude that I hold for my on and off line friends; that regardless of their particular political stance, when a decision is demanded of them I trust that they will not act selfishly, or out of narrow partisan interest, but will do the best they can based on their assessment of the situation. *

It boils down to trust, not on the part of the media consumer, but the media producer. Many bloggers are perfectly happy to answer Hugh's ten questions because they trust their readership to approach them with an open mind regardless of the actual content of their answers to those questions. MSM types may scream "McCarthyism!" when asked the same question, but what that denunciation really means is "We don't trust you enough to tell you," which, come to think of it, explains almost everything one needs to know about the relationship between the mainstream media and the American public.


*If I have failed to engender this trust in you, all I can say is "Surely you have better things to do, mother."

Update: Hugh, proving himself to be as open as he would like others to be, has posted his answers to the ten questions.

Posted by Bigwig at December 30, 2004 04:44 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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Comments

Funny. If you're looking for a particular bias in a writer, I don't think those questions serve the basic purpose.

For example, I don't believe in abortion, late-term, partial or otherwise.

I attend church regularly. I was raised and remain a Methodist, though I do find that I like Catholic women a great deal.

Do I believe in same sex marriage? No. Civil Unions and equal protection under the law yes, but not marriage.

Did I support the invasion or Iraq? No. I didn't buy the reasons that were being given to us for going in. Do I support staying in Iraq until the job is done? Yes. We have too much at stake to come home now.

Oh, and I don't support ANWR drilling because I don't believe there's enough oil there to be worth the trouble.

I suspect you'd be hard pressed to use my answers to determine for whom I voted in any election unless the ANWR drilling or Iraq invasion outweight my Christian ideals somehow.

From those answers, someone might think I have a conservative bias. I don't think I do. My last five presidential votes have gone to Kerry, Gore, Clinton, *shudder*Perot, and I think Dukakis, but I may have skipped that election because I was an irresponsible teenager.

As far as I can tell, the basic premise of asking the questions suffers from poor reasoning, at least as far as determining bias. Like you, I think I would more readily place my trust in someone who answered them at all, rather than how they answered.

Posted by: Kehaar at December 30, 2004 05:10 PM

Reasoned arguments can change my mind and I'm going to give that "open bar" one some seriously liquid thought. But that pops the top on another social can 'o worms... which partner's parents pay for the reception?

Posted by: Donna at December 30, 2004 05:37 PM

Few, if any, weddings in California have open bars. It's pretty much an even split between no bar and cash bar. (Some of the "no bar" did have wine with dinner.)

Posted by: Andy Freeman at December 30, 2004 06:23 PM

I don't understand why you are making your kids go to church if you don't believe in it yourself.

Posted by: Libertarian Girl at December 30, 2004 07:05 PM

And here I was thinking that link was pretty self-explanatory.

Posted by: Bigwig at December 30, 2004 07:29 PM

Wow. Those are some profoundly conservative answers. You go to church to instill some morals in the chirrets? Wow. With answers like that you deserve a beer, a fine olde hand pumped English bitter, with Edmund Burke.

Posted by: Blackavar at December 30, 2004 09:09 PM

Fine and witty post.

As for the questions, personally, I like to keep them guessing. . .

SS

Posted by: Spear Shaker at December 31, 2004 01:48 AM

It was interesting to read Hugh's litmus test, because that's what it clearly is: the requirements for earning HIS trust, and "OUR" trust since it's obvious what the "right" answers are and he seems to be assuming he's speaking to a group of the like minded. But the amusing and enlightening thing is that the answers he's garnered from the blogosphere are all over the map. Kehaar, for instance, is anti all abortion and anti ANWR drilling and voted for Democrats. What the heck does that make HIM?! Almost every blogger has his/her own fingerprint combination of these issues. Such a nondoctrinaire bunch! You gotta love it. I won't stuff this post with my answers but they're an equally mixed bag. (And I've omitted EVERY bloody dash in this comment to try to get it through . . . )

Posted by: amba at December 31, 2004 01:24 PM

since it's obvious what the "right" answers are

I thought, myself, that the point is that there are no wrong answers other than "I won't tell you."

Posted by: jaed at December 31, 2004 10:02 PM

Just one small nitpick in your ANWR answer... in tying this to CAFE standards, there's actually no evidence that CAFE is conservationist. That is, if cars get better fuel economy, then people simply drive more, since they can afford to.

There may be a good way to tie ANWR drilling to fuel conservation, but it seems to me that CAFE isn't the way to do that.

My bottomline is that someone has to prove that CAFE actually is conservationist in its effects. So far, no one has been able to do that. "It sounds good" is a pretty poor test if you're actually looking for results.

Someone please feel free to introduce facts I'm missing if I'm all wet here...

Posted by: Reid Davis at January 3, 2005 12:10 PM

How to stop drugs:

Drug police.

How to stop abortion:

Vagina police.

I want to be an Inspector.

M'Kay?

Posted by: M. Simon at January 4, 2005 02:34 AM
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