David Letterman asked former president Obama what he considers the more dangerous threat to a democracy, the president demeaning the press or a foreign power sabotaging the voting process. Obama must think it’s the latter, because in his answer he demeaned the news media.
One of the biggest challenges we have to our democracy is the degree to which we don’t share a common baseline of facts. If you watch Fox News, you are living on a different planet than you are if you are listening to NPR.
I have some questions and comments.
1. How does Obama know this? Does he watch Fox News these days? Does he watch Bret Baier’s “Special Report,” the Fox News program that presents a “baseline of facts”?
2. Obama has it backwards. Having a common baseline of facts supplied by a monolithic media is more deleterious to democracy than the situation Obama describes. Residents of the Soviet Union had a common baseline of facts. Dictatorships are like that.
3. To a far greater extent than conservatives, liberals are living on their own planet. Most conservatives who follow current events are aware of the “facts” liberals subscribe to.
They probably get them from at least one mainstream media outlet (in my case, mainly the Washington Post). They may get them from a conservative blog like Power Line. The starting point — or baseline, if you prefer — for much of what I write is an account from the liberal mainstream media. Typically, I critique that account, often harshly. But the reader knows what “facts” the mainstream media outlet is presenting on the subject.
4. Few liberals are aware of what conservatives are reporting or saying. They probably don’t watch Fox News or read the Washington Times or Examiner. It’s very unlikely that they listen to conservative talk radio or read conservative blogs.
Recently at a social gathering, someone asked me what I was writing about on our blog. I mentioned Fusion GPS. None of the liberals in the room, all of whom follow the news, knew what Fusion GPS is.
5. Is Barack Obama really as shallow a thinker as he appears to be?