‘Just the facts’ — as they see it

Herb Day - Contributing columnist

There are so many choices for news and information these days that it is rather confusing what to believe and what not to believe.

I heard an ad for a news service recently in which the actor stated that he used to listen only to “news that he agreed with.” This made me wonder if this is what I was doing, and if so, how far away from reality is my understanding as to what is going on in my world.

With this in mind, I decided to research the slants the networks put on the same story, and what I found was astonishingly sad. First, I discovered that I didn’t always recognize the same story as I made comparisons between the channels. Next, I found that the tone of the same story varied among networks from gushing approval to rabid hatred and down-right mean-spirited commentary.

As my exhaustive sampling of reporting from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, HLN and others began, it made me wonder how long this metamorphosis of “news” feeding has been going on.

I went to YouTube and pulled up some of the old Huntley-Brinkley news shows from NBC from back in the ’60s, some of the Walter Cronkite Evening News reports, ABC’s news coverage from the old programs with Harry Reasoner, Sam Donaldson or Peter Jennings and found that even though the stories between the channels resembled one another more closely than they do today, each had its own spin, more often than not, in the tone of the reporting.

Back in the days of old it seems that there was at least an attempt to deliver only the facts without interjection of opinion. These days, anchors and reporters can’t make their “mark” without an opinionated spin. I find it tragic that the late-night talk shows, whose value originally was intended for entertainment, have become an agenda extension for either the left or the right — usually the left — and leave precious little time for entertainment.

Sitcoms even depart from comedy so often to make political statements. This, too, is not a new phenomenon. If you take another look at Archie Bunker in the old “All In The Family” shows from the ’70s, political statements were being made and issues of the day were dealt with in each episode.

Perhaps what makes the shovel-feeding of slant and opinion pushing news reporting of today most difficult to stomach is the fact that I am being told what to believe, and then informed that if I don’t believe it in the way they are reporting it, I lack intelligence, I am insensitive, a bigot or worse.

The evolution of the way news is presented to us resembles the old fable of the frog in the pot of water on the stove who doesn’t realize until it is too late that he is being boiled.

I’m not certain that I ever received “just the facts” about what was going on in Washington, and anyplace else in the world for that matter. I spoke recently with a man who spent considerable time in Israel, and he stated that the view of the United States from Israeli television is much different than we see here.

In fact, he went on to say that day to day life in Israel is much different than what we see on the news here in the states.

What’s true reality and what is the reality that some faction or group wants me to see and believe? You and I may never know. What is really the news I agree with, and why should there be a difference between that and the truth?

I’m not sure I agree with any of the news reporting anymore.

How about you?

Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at [email protected] and follow his work at www.HerbDayVoices.com.


Herb Day

Contributing columnist