Thursday, March 5, 2009

Should dishonest people be given a platform?

Earlier today I blogged about the idiocy that passes for informed commentary on CNN's American Morning show, specifically with regard to a discussion of certain earmarks that are found in the current proposed Federal budget. I noted the extent to which the CNN anchors seemed blissfully unaware and proudly ignorant of the purpose of research conducted to ameliorate the odors that emanate from pig farms.

Now, searching through I've come across a video segment in which Rick Sanchez interviews a spokesperson for Taxpayers for Common Sense, an anti-tax "good government" watchdog group that never saw a disingenuous characterization of a spending program it didn't fully and warmly embrace. Observe how the spokesperson characterizes the research in question:

Once thing that I find interesting is the way the TFCS spokesperson unfairly ridicules and then later amends her characterization of the program:

"If you see $1.7 million for pig odor research it's impossible not to say: really, were going to spend $1/7 million to find out whether pigs smell? Because I think I can answer that without spending a dime."
But then she immediately adds:
"That said, is there a big problem with factory farms full of thousands and thousands of hogs? There might be, but then why isn't the industry paying to figure out how to solve that problem?"
The first paragraph quoted above is a cheap shot, and it's one of the main reasons I have a problem with these groups. The spokesperson clearly understands the purpose of this research, as we can see from the second paragraph, and yet she opens her discussion of the earmark in question with a completely dishonest and asinine attack upon it.

There is, indeed, a case to be made that the hog farming industry should be paying for this research and that's the true argument to be had. That's the argument that we'd be focusing on if we had anything even remotely resembling an intelligent, informed, and inquisitive press in this country. But instead what we get is stupid banter about how the government is funding research to determine whether pigs are stinky or not. Anchors like Rich Sanchez and John Roberts let these sorts of comments slide, instead of calling them out, and of course this is the story that gets told and retold in hair salons, barber shops and bars across the country. The result is a further cementing of the idiot notion, promulgated by Conservatives, that the government is a bumbling, stupid, corrupt organism that wastes taxpayer dollars on absurd studies and offers little if any return on our investment... in other words, that government is the problem, not the solution.

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