Like the bloated aftermath of a big meal, I have had a gut full of politicians and some commentators, childish behaviour in parliament, inhumanity and cruelty, and nothing but ‘broken record’ and ‘blame the other guy’ tactics from our government. Quality media is bending over backwards to ensure their reporting is ‘balanced’ to the point where some shows are becoming unwatchable. The problem is independent, intelligent media is being hunted mercilessly by extreme right political assassins. These assassins are quite happy for Australians to live on the diet of reality TV and reruns made between 1940 and 1985 currently served up on commercial TV – under no circumstances allow the masses to think. In self-defense too much air time is being given to some commentators who without apology express so much personal bias and quite frankly utter nonsense in some cases that once intelligent television is becoming very difficult to watch.
Balanced yes, but we also need to evaluate opinions and name them as such. Let’s say, to make sure a scientific panel discussing planet earth is balanced we include a commentator who says the earth is flat. Are both views of equal value? Do we invite a commentator who claims the super rich are alien lizards onto a show about globalisation? Do we balance views on multiculturalism with racist commentary? No we don’t but across the board the equally uninformed are getting airtime while at the same time parliament is giving the circus a bad name. I don’t believe, members of the public are uncritical but we know from research that people tend to accept more easily the stuff that supports their own pre-existing beliefs. Faulty logic can make the wild and whacky appear credible and beliefs stated often enough can become accepted as fact over time – our politicians rely on this. Some things are beliefs. Some things are facts and other things should legitimately be understood from a range of perspectives and experiences. There is also a hierarchy of credibility and reliability.
Just for one moment imagine a world where politicians and commentators talk about research. Every time they make a claim or suggest a policy change, they are required to discuss the evidence and back up their claim with some sort of analysis – and the independence of the methodology and analysis scrutinised. Imagine every statement not supported bleeped out like foul language. That is the television and parliament I would like to see. I would also like to win the lottery and see pigs fly. At least we will always have satirists, people like academics who can and do back up their positions and those threatened by allegations of ‘unbalanced’ to point out the obvious unless of course they are nobbled too.