I have a low opinion of ABC’s John Stossel to begin with — I don’t have a problem with holding libertarian political ideology (reliant on the myth of free-market perfection as it is), but there is a particular problem with misrepresenting people in news reports in advocacy journalism — particularly when it encourages really asinine things such as saying that people shouldn’t vote if they aren’t informed, like his report tonight on 20/20 is doing.
Now, we have a a habit of making fun of “low-information” voters all the time, but I’ll be damned if I ever suggest that people shouldn’t vote. The problem is that too few peopel vote in this country, and too few people vote with a complete grasp of the issues — but there’s no fucking way you solve that by telling people who can’t grasp every single nuance or some civics basics to stay home on Election Day. That’s advocating personal disenfranchisement in civic matters.
(If you have a well-thought out reason to not vote on principle, that’s different.)
Even better, there are claims by the organization HeadCount that Stossel misrepresented it and the rock fans he interviewed on some basic civics questions at the concert he went to — of course, Stossel went to a rock show, full of young people eligible to vote.
Next, we suggest Stossel go to retirement homes or run through the AARP rolls to suggest people are too old and senile to vote properly, if he’s going to stay on this line of thought. I would appeal by saying that maybe schools ought to get some funding for the basic civics classes we used to have (or at least I did, anyway), but Stossel isn’t a big fan of government intervention.* Or, rather than put out reports like this on a Friday newsmagazine, how about the media educate the public for once on some of the basics again? Just a refresher course, some basic breakdowns of the big issues?
Wait. This would require actual work, someone who knew economics, had a bit of insight on foreign policy, and wasn’t just taking interviews from people who have a dog in the fight as gospel. That isn’t a slam at Stossel so much as the media as a whole: political journalism right now resembles a series of press release journalism, with both sides getting their say in and the media not really caring to divine which one is the truth (or closer to it) in the interest of fairness.
Also, John, that sweater is horrific. I hope you plan to burn it or have already done so.
(*It seems like the people least likely to have unforeseen economic or natural disaster-type events affect their daily lives are always the ones saying that government isn’t necessary.)