Sensationalism vs. Wise Perspective

I commented in my prior post a couple days ago the thought that we need to make

A commitment to finding sources of information that inform rather than entertain, educate rather than play with our emotions, and give us complexity rather than black-and-white generalizations. In other words, turn Fox News and MSNBC and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Air America and Huffington Post off and choose to direct our attention to reputable sources like National Public Radio and Public Television and (gasp) BBC.

I happen to respect Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio more than nearly any governmental leader.  In fact, I’m a Facebook fan of his, which I guess cements my status in a really cool, hip way or really dorky way, whichever way you look at it. Anyways, if you’re a “fan” of a group on Facebook, from time to time you get sent updates from whoever they are.  On Tuesday, I received an update from Dennis of an interview of him by MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell that underscores how ridiculous our news shows have gotten and how relentlessly they seek ratings. 

The video interview, embedded below, came about as a result of President Obama’s announcement that the military would be drawing down troops in Iraq to between 35,000 to 50,000 troops by 2010.  This is good news, but as Dennis Kucinich mentioned almost immediately, is not excellent news because tens of thousands of troops remain, risking American life and infringing on Iraqi sovereignty.  His comment upon hearing the annoucement was 

I support President Obama for taking a step in the right direction in Iraq, but I do not think that his plan goes far enough. You cannot leave combat troops in a foreign country to conduct combat operations and call it the end of the war. You can’t be in and out at the same time…America must determine at some point to end the occupation, close the bases and bring the troops home. We must bring a conclusion to this sorry chapter in American history where war was waged under false pretense against an innocent people. Taking troops out of Iraq should not mean more troops available for deployment in other operations.

Sound reasonable to you? Well, how do you think the media spun this statement? From this interview, you can see a bit of where they went with it, making it sound like Kucinich is being insubordinate and trying to start a firefight with Obama and his leadership…but Kucinich repeatedly elevates the level of discourse from playground to civilized discussion.

Norah:  “President Obama is trying to end the war.  Why are you criticizing him?”

Kucinich: “Well, I’m not criticizing him for trying to end the war. I’m saying that he has made a step in the right direction..He’s taken a step in the right direction, but I don’t think you can call this a withdrawal. It’s a phase-down, but it’s not a phase-out. You’re either in our you’re out, and right now we’re still in.”

Norah: “You’re either in our your out…it’s not a withdrawal…this plan doesn’t go far enough…these are all your words, and you’re saying that’s not criticizing the President? It sounds like you’re criticizing the man who won this election on ending the war in Iraq, and you’re saying, “not good enough.”

Kucinich: “Well, you know, again, I think we have to credit the President for taking a step in the right direction.”

Watch the video and tell me if you see what I’m seeing.  Because I see a black-and-white, snide, “gotcha,” ratings hound anchor and a reasoned, wise man who brings in historical knowledge to bear (in Afghanistan), refuses the definition of support he’s confronted with (as if he should wave an Obama flag and cheer every time the President opens his mouth), and offers a genuine different perspective.


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