Monday, December 31, 2007

Competing Realities

After my last post, a review of Orson Scott Card's Empire, I took a look at his home page ( I have it bookmarked, but check it rarely, which is a shame, he does some good reviews, etc. I took a look at a recent post, "A Standup President ( It kind of confirms something I've thought more than once, that different citizens in this country live in competing realities. What he is saying in this essay just isn't what I recognize as reality.

I know Card is well-read in current events, a post I read of his some time ago mentions the publications he reads regularly, and they are some of the most noted on both the conservative and liberal sides. As for me, I read summaries of news from CNN, the BBC, and Today's Papers by Slate, which summarizes the leading stories of the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. I read the New York Times top stories, listen to ABC World News Tonight, and keep up as I can with stories on Alternet, Common Dreams, Mother Jones, the Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, etc. I also read books on politics and current affairs, again usually from a left perspective, though I try to read a bit more broadly.

It seems like there is very little non-partisan media anymore. I began reading some of the alternative media because it seemed that the Main Stream Media (MSM), was not covering all the important stories. Even the New York Times and the Washington Post get accused of not covering things the government doesn't want covered. These accusations come from the left at the same time the right is accusing these papers of ignoring everything but the liberal perspective. Meanwhile talk radio and Fox News are accused of radically right partisanship.

As a result, those in the country who are interested in news can pick their news sources according to their politics, and it increases the polarization. Informed citizens on both sides spout facts and figures that create a totally different picture of reality. For example, in the post by Card mentioned above, he calls George W. Bush a thoughtful president who learns from his mistakes. and honest, very different from the lying, incurious, unrepentant, power-hungry president found in my usual sources.

It is hard to say Card is stupid and ignorant. He's not. So are there any sources of information one can trust? And how can we deal in a bipartisan way with those who disagree when the picture they have of reality is so different?

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