“What’s your favorite newspaper?” my Uncle Frank always asks his nieces and nephews. “The New York Times” and “The Wall Street Journal” are some of the more popular answers, but for him, there’s only one right response.
“The correct answer is: none of them,” he’ll tell the unsuspecting cousin of mine as he or she is taken aback by his stark correction.
Now, Uncle Frank doesn’t mean that there are no decent newspapers in America, or in the world for that matter.
What he’s trying to instill in us is that no newspaper reports the whole truth. No news outlet has all the answers or a perfect scope on a story.
I’ll explain with an example everyone can relate to: George Washington. He is adored perhaps as the one of the greatest leader in American history.
During the Revolutionary War, Washington led troops to victory at Trenton on Christmas day in a surprise attack against British mercenaries. It has been captured by the famous painting, “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” by Emanuel Leutze.
The painting portrays the patriots and their leader majestically crossing the ice-jammed river, on their way to win the battle that very well may have won them the war. It’s a very inspiring image.
But, if you check into other sources, you realize that Washington and his men killed foreigners who didn’t speak English, were fighting to support their families back home and were defenseless while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
I love George Washington for what he did that day, but should Leutze have painted him and his compatriots the way he did? While many prisoners were taken, taking this into account takes away some majesty of the grand painting.
My point is that there are too many Leutzes out there now painting their own masterpieces on current events, but they do it to further their own policy agendas and those of the officials they support.
And it’s by no means just one party. Sure, one can say, “Blah blah Fox News is so biased blah blah,” or “The New York Times is so left-leaning,” and they’re absolutely right.
That jaded argument is beyond the point. The point is, as Uncle Frank says, “You’re favorite newspaper should be all of them.” If you’re a liberal, read The Wall Street Journal every once in a while and be open to different opinions.
If you’re conservative, turn on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” to switch from the usual dose of smugness you receive from Bill O’Reilly and get it from somewhere else for a change.
This will be difficult, maybe even impossible, but the news outlets and media are never going to change. They’re going to keep polarizing themselves to appeal to the stalwarts on both sides of the spectrum.
The only thing that can change to reverse this increasing polarization that will tear apart this country, that George Washington himself warned of in his farewell address, will be your willingness to come to the middle. It’s not as bad as you think.
Thanks Sean and The CN, and good luck