A Wider Net

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Through my ham radio hobby, I listen to the BBC and other “world” news more than most people. Every morning, I surf online periodicals from China to Israel. It still amazes me how differently the mainstream media in various nations report “the news.” The American media are among the worst at providing balanced coverage or even acknowledging news that may be controversial on a domestic level. Indeed, with the exception of Fox News, most media outlets in the United States appear to be a cross between White House PR agents and entertainers. (Given that there is a Democratic White House, Fox serves up anti-PR and entertainment.)

What sparks this reflection? Media outlets in the UK are hardly a bastion of free speech, especially when burdened, as they are, with political correctness. Nevertheless, UK coverage of ClimateGate has been intense, constant, and of remarkably high quality. Coverage in the States has been . . . well, the issue is mentioned by the likes of CNN from time to time, but the talking heads downplay the scandal and quickly counterbalance its mention with an expert who delivers a mini-lecture on polar bears or “being green.” Again Fox is the exception because Fox delights in discrediting Obama’s signature cap-and-trade policy. The contrast between the UK and the U.S. media in covering this issue is almost stunning.

Yet I know that many Americans genuinely believe they are well informed because they watch news programs. I sometimes approach the idea that the media are misinforming them by pointing out that CNN International broadcasts a very different type of news — different both in quality and in content — than is seen domestically. The domestic CNN dumbs down the news, filters out impolitic matters, and then serves up the sanitized grade-school version as a side dish to the ongoing entertainment. No matter. When I stop speaking, the Americans simply repeat their belief that American news is the best on the planet because . . . well, it is American.

In reality, it is necessary to cruise news from around the world — from nations with different and often conflicting interests — in order to glean a hint about what is truly happening.

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