Sunday, October 22, 2017

Proper Apology

File under: Oh that liberal bias.

I should be more gracious, accepting of someone having a change of heart and coming around to my point of view.  Former NPR CEO Ken Stern certainly ran a fair experiment, at significant personal inconvenience and risk of embarrassment when he resolved to spend a year among "the other side."  That other side sort of includes me, but non-liberals are a pretty varied bunch, and embedding with all types would take more than a year, so I suppose I should be happy he got anywhere near many of the constituent parts.

But the linked article just made me furious.  Oh, so now you think you should check the premises you've been operating on for half a career, contributing to the demonising and destruction of others. All those voices over the decades saying "Hey, you know you guys are sort biased...That story you ran there, it's not really fair...the people you work for, they seem to leave out some important stories and highlight less-important ones...How is that different from just calling people names?... Decent people have been damaged by what you're doing...there's considerable evidence that you aren't reporting this fairly..." And, having decided that you had missed a great deal and been unfair while in positions of power, you still have to point out that those people still have their demagogues, and their current representative is Demagogue-in-chief. I suspect there is something of a desire to show that he is still balanced, can still see both sides, in order to maintain credibility with people he would now hope to persuade. Probably so.  Probably wise in the long run. I am ungracious, as I said, and likely a bad strategist to boot.

Yet a proper apology goes like this. I did this wrong. I am sorry. I will try not to do it again. What can I do to make this better for you?

It is not an unusual situation when we have to apologise that we think the other person still has done a lot wrong as well and we would like to point that out to him yet again.  That is in fact nearly always the case. But that comes later.  First, you have to clear your own slate.

Perhaps he has.  He has a book coming out this Tuesday Republican Like Me: How I left the liberal bubble and learned to love the right. We'll see. I wish him well, I suppose.


RichardJohnson said...

AVI, I am not as upset as you are. As I see it, he at least acknowledged that he had been mistaken. Given the sneering, condescending tone that has "unsurprisingly" dominated NPR since at least the Reagan years, I find that an accomplishment. Consider where he came from.

The article's graphs of opinion differences between Pubs and Demos sums it up fairly well. I found it interesting that the closest that Pubs and Demos came to agreeing was on "Government is almost always wasteful and inefficient." If 45% of Demos agree with that, then why in the Sam Hill are they always pushing larger government?

My biggest disappointment so far with Trump is that he hasn't put a brake on spending.

Though I am not particularly pleased with following statements from the linked article, so perhaps you and I agree more than I initially thought.

Some of this loss of reputation stems from effective demagoguery from the right and the left, as well as from our demagogue-in-chief, but the attacks wouldn’t be so successful if our media institutions hadn’t failed us as well.
He doesn't point out that the media has consistently leaned left. Recall that newspapers supporting Trump accounted for 3% of circulation. That rather makes his effort at being "even-handed" rather lame. The following would have been more accurate: "There is demagoguery from both the left and from the right, but as the left dominates the media, demagoguery on the left has had decidedly more impact."

None of this justifies the attacks from President Trump, which are terribly inappropriate coming from the head of government.
Media has mercilessly attacked Pub Presidents or Presidential candidates for years and years, while essentially giving Demo equivalents a free pass. Trump is, for the most part, the first one that has fought back. I, for one, like that he fights back. While Trump wasn't my first choice, his attacking media people - the enemy of my enemy is my friend- helped gain my support. (Ironically, several of my brother's high school peers, prominent in the media, have impressed me with their objectivity. But they have not concentrated on domestic politics.)

At the same time, the media should acknowledge its own failings in reflecting only their part of America. You can’t cover America from the Acela corridor, and the media need to get out and be part of the conversations that take place in churches and community centers and town halls.
While I agree with him, I doubt this is going to happen. The fallout from the collapse of media ad revenue has led to a higher proportion of journalists being located in the Acela corridor.

Christopher B said...

Richard - The spending question probably comes down to where you consider the waste and inefficiency to be concentrated. Liberals generally have no trouble accepting that defense spending and business subsidies are often wasteful but my impression is that's where their vision ends. Conservatives will usually agree with those in part, disagreeing with the details of what is waste and what is subsidy, but will then include a whole host of transfer payments and regulatory bodies that liberals ignore.

BB-Idaho said...

IMO, there seems an inseparable divide these days, with the right demeaning traditional media and the left demeaning Breitbart and talk radio. The rise of
the internet tends to drive people further into their demographic. As a retired
scientist, I find myself among the 93% progressives in that field: an old Eisenhower admirer unimpressed with the GOP drift and greatly concerned with the
dismantling (probably inadvertently) of the middle class. You correctly note the
wide diversity among conservatives: the liberals exhibit a similar range. Beneath
the rage, much of it justified, the bulk of Americans basically want what is best for our country.