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Seeing The Forest - a Weblog of Politics:
"Is Kristoff unaware that there is a well-funded right-wing movement in this country that uses lies, smears and humiliation as a primary tactic to sway public opinion? 'Extremist' is the wording the Right uses to discredit environmentalists, and Rush Limbaugh uses to describe environmentalists on his 20-some-million-listener radio show. No wonder 41 percent of Americans use the word! But Kristoff unintentionally echoes the 'conventional wisdom' of the Right's smear campaign -- it's environmentalists' fault people think they're 'extremists' because they scream 'the sky is falling' like Chicken Littles. It's like saying 'if only Jews [blacks, gays, women, etc.] didn't act that way people wouldn't hate them.'
Its a wonder to behold the so-called old school media type soberly reporting public opinion when they should know that public opinion polls are only a read on how well Public Relations Campaigns have worked.
If say a majority of people believe that Saddam was responsible for 9-11 despite overwhelming evidence against this belief, the media's analysis should include at least a few articles on how it has failed to inform the people.
If a poll says public opinion feels that people who want to protect the environment are "extremists" the question they should be asking is "Is this belief founded on good information"?
Of course, I feel that these polls tell us something more important. It tells me that we are woefully uninformed about the most critical issues of our day. This is a predictable consequence of current trends in "news" infotainment. You can't watch the cable news networks for more than a few minutes without realizing (if you're smart) that it has become an outlet for PR agents and political operatives pushing bad information.
This is not in our interest as a nation.
So when we learn that this bad information has become the conventional wisdom, it only shows what success some interests have had in changing our overall perception of reality.
Because you and me, average people, have little access to the world outside of our small geographic stomping ground. Ad most people don't have the time to do their own factchecking. So we have to rely on others to provide us with a view to the outside world and the facts as they exist. But I don't think that its an exhaggeration to say that the most easily accessible forms of "news' have become nothing more than outlets for corporate America's message.
For Example: The local Fox news outlet leads with the latest results from "Hometown Hero" Carrie Underwood perfomances on Fox Network's American Idol. And that's just the most egregious example of how most media corporations see their "news" outlets as just another forum to push their products.
Pandering to people = ratings. And we should never forget what these networks are selling, our eyeballs to advertisers. Whether or not they do so with good information or bad information is irrelavant. What they have learned over the past several decades is that people are not tuning in to become informed, they are tuning in to be reassured in their worldview. The traditional view of news reporting says that people will reward "news" outlets that provide them with the best source of information by watching. The success of FOX News, CNN and MSNBC has shown that accuracy matters less than your presentation.
Studies have shown that people who watch FOX are the least informed amongst consumers of similar news outlets, but that doesn't change people's loyalty to that channel as it presents a worldview that aligns nicely with their own biases. FOX and others know that people don't want to be preached at, or reprimended, or reminded that their own greed and negligence are responsible for so much harm in this world.
So even an easily debunked lie will live on.
There are some environmentalists that are little overzealous; squatting in trees, destroying equipment, and in some cases putting people's lives in danger. But the VAST MAJORITY of people that support protecting the environment are just regular joes like you and me that hate that the world that we have enjoyed all our lives is in danger of being lost to future generations. There is a long recorded history of business interests that have put the health of people or our envirnment at risk for the sake of profits. We have learned that we have to remain vigilant and aware so that these cases are few and short-lived and that people are not needlessly killed or that beautiful climates aren't destroyed.
This feeling of self-preservation and a desire to protect our environment is seen as "extreme" by big business who would rather we not stand in their way as they seek to make their money. It is not extreme. It is common sense. Most people who come to environmenatlism do so after witnessing the callous disregard for life and environment that business interest's exhibit.
But commen sense has become "extreme".
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Dissolve into Evergreens