Mike Cope's blog

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Got stuck watching "Fox News" at the health club again this morning. (Have to get there before 5:45 to make sure CNN is on!) The thing that bothers me most about Fox is their phrase: "We report; you decide." It's the myth of objectivity. We're just reporting, and we'll let you decide. This morning the anchors presented some news involving the United Nations. After the report, one of them said, "You know I'm not much of a fan of the UN. It's just a bunch of people trying to keep their jobs." Then they cut away with the "We report; you decide" mantra. As they came back, they reported a new law in California. One of the anchors yelled, "That is so stupid!" Again, "We report; you decide." Occasionally they cut away to a radio personality in Chicago called "Man Cow," whose job it is to be as bombastic, lurid, and lecherous as possible. "We report; you decide." Can you imagine Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw (or Matt Lauer or Katie Couric, for that matter) ending a report by saying, "That's so stupid"? Of course, other media aren't entirely objective either. Choices are made about which stories are reported, about how they are reported, and about whom to interview. But at least they're not trying to whitewash it with "We report; you decide." I heard a Greek professor once try to convince his audience that he was undoubtedly right because, as he said, "I'm just reading text." He claimed he wasn't interpreting--just reading the Bible. But of course he was interpreting! No one gets upset when you read the Bible. It's when you start to explain it that the fireworks can begin. We all bring our backgrounds, our biases, and our preferences to the table. That isn't to say we can never come to confident conclusions, but it does mean we come with humility, knowing that we aren't completely objective.

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