The Pied Piper

I sometimes resort to parody, satire and hyperbole to make a point on local issues and the local mediascape, such as it is, especially when it comes to our local radio pundits.
So let me offer an actual stream — paraphrased as no transcripts exist– with no satire, no hyperbole and no parody , but what actually gets credibility and embraced by a faction of our local political class and citizenry as truth.
The context for the two assertions that follow is that the local punditry believes the political process is hampered by “low information voters”. In short, because of “low information voters”, we really don’t get the “true” vote on political matters so any policy that gets adopted counter to the pundits’ ideology is not really what the people want as it’s distorted by “low information voters”.
Subsequent to this lament on the state of low information voters, the radio host makes two assertions:
Assertion 1: Under the rules of Obamacare, anyone selling their home has to pay 3.8% of the selling price in tax to pay for Obamacare. This will adversely impact our seniors when they go to sell their home for $60K.
Assertion 2: Voter fraud, ostensibly by these very same low information voters, is so rampant that in a Palm Beach County, 130% of the voters cast votes for Obama.
Not surprisingly, given my own experience with local radio, the two assertions above are flatly false.
The falsity of Assertion #1 is widely established per the link below (courtesy FoxBusiness):

You’ve glommed onto some wrong information, I’m afraid. While the volume of erroneous emails, op-ed pieces and other communications penned following the March 2010 passage of the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has waned somewhat, the misinformation apparently lingers on. The National Association of Realtors received so many inquiries on the topic that it posted a myth-buster document on to refute it

The falsity of Assertion #2 is also easily established(courtesey Snopes which displays a big red FALSE):

The official results for the 2012 general election in Palm Beach County … a voter turnout rate of 69.5%.

Now, let’s remember the pundits’ framing for how we got here: “Low information voters are ruining our political and democratic process. How can people vote who know so little?”
Let me ask a different albeit quite impolite question: how can the public tolerate a medium that exacerbates the very issue they rail against? How can you bemoan the state of knowledge of voters when you directly contribute to the sad state of “low information”? Or , worse yet, create a new swath of wholly misinformed voters?
While the issue here is a national issue for which many information sources exist to prove or disprove claims, the more disconcerting observation is that on local issues– for which sources and coverage are limited– the likelihood of misinformation increases exponentially. And in this context of misinformation, of which this medium plays a key role, is it any wonder that people disconnect from the political process or any wonder that we make precisely the wrong policy choices based upon assertions which are utterly untrue?
Keeping it local, think to how many issues get framed and presented with arguments built on rumors, innuendo and falsehoods and then amplified through a medium ostensibly created to inform voters. I admire parody done well and this is truly a parody of the highest order.
But like most things in the 12010, we like things precisely the way they are, no matter how much a self-parody or how much it keeps us from moving forward. And you do know why: if things were different, we’d may just have less to lament and bemoan.
And then what would we do?!

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1 Response

  1. Bill Sheehan says:

    What does it says about the owners of said medium that they allow for such falsehoods to be spread (like manure) and framed as truth. Somebody could challenge their fitness to hold a broadcast license for flying in the face of the ‘public interest’ (see Communications Act of 1933).

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