The New McCarthyism

I have to confess, I am not going to vote in the election this coming week. I’d like to, but I am so disenfranchised by everything that I would be voting for. I have interest in possibly seeing the Democrats take House and Senate, but I’m realistic enough to realize that as long as Alabamians live in Alabama, they’ll send Republicans to Washington. I’m more than realistic enough to realize that my vote would have absolutely no effect whatsoever. When you live in an environment where the political ads airing on local TV treat words like “liberalism” and “taxes” as dirty words, it’s hard to really vest any interest in local politics if you hang a little to the left.

Given, there are parts of Alabama that are still traditionally Democratic, due to a large elderly population that still remembers stories of the Great Depression and TVA being given to them firsthand. But that’s only a small percentage that really isn’t going to last much longer. Sure, those Baby Boomers may have also passed down those values to their kids and grandkids, but those are also the ones who are smart enough to move out of Alabama.

I’m also fed up with the sensational media and the public willingness to believe and subscribe to whatever belief or stance the media feeds to them. Not to mention the snowball effect that occurs when even one single negative political ad airs.

Take a look at this:

Had this not said “paid for by Lucy Baxley”, would we have really known the true intent of this ad? And now that the ad labels itself as an attack ad from Lucy Baxley, what have we really learned about her? The ad says nothing about Baxley herself other than she’s keen to point out these claims. It does not say how she could improve, or how she would do differently should she be elected governor. I hate this ad, and can’t stand Lucy Baxley. And I’m a freaking Democrat.

Let’s take another example. There’s been much to do over the past week over John Kerry making a joke about uneducated Americans ending up in Iraq. It was meant as a joke and has been taken totally out of context by the twenty four hour newscast networks that are more keep to play a ten second sound byte over and over as opposed to playing the entire speech so that the viewer can see it in true context. Instead they’d like to play to sensationalism, turning political news into Talk Soup on E!. True, the Daily Show does this with a Liberal slant. But there’s a big difference there. The Daily Show has never been designed as a true news outlet. Jon Stewart simply takes the news and makes jokes out of it. That’s it. On the other hand, real journalism outlets have real responsibilities to inform viewers and readers of the entire story, not just the part that they’ve hunted to find that shows events in whatever context they should choose to present it in.

And that is the new McCarthyism. It’s not after witches or Communists, it’s after context. We’ll shift through stacks of newspapers or hours of news interviews or speeches to find exactly the comment that best fits with whatever point we’d like to make. Nevermind that it might have a totally different meaning in the context that it was given in. That doesn’t matter. What matters is what we can make it say that it might not have in the first place.


3 responses to “The New McCarthyism

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