Friday, January 27, 2017

Why Do So Many People Disagree with Me?

I have spent some time since Trump's inauguration following the news about his activities as president so far, what he has done and said. And I have divided my time watching the reporting of his antics between CNN and Fox News almost equally, with a healthy dose of CBS and NBC mixed in. Of all those sources, the broadcast networks, CBS and NBC seem not to dwell on the more polarizing aspects of his presidency. They report them but don't dwell for long on them. The big takeaway for me comes from the different emphases CNN and Fox News place on their respective reporting of Trump as president.

I don't watch the evening punditry on Fox News because I know for sure how it goes. There is nothing at all fair and balanced about the Hannity show. CNN seems to be closer to what is reported on the broadcast networks but it tends to dig a little deeper, since it is a 24-hour news network. I don't watch MSNBC because for some reason Comcast puts it in a higher tier that I don't subscribe to.

What I have come away with after a week of Trump as president is a clearer understanding of why some people continue to stick with Trump despite some really outrageous things he has said and done since being elected. The bottom line is that Fox reports on the same stories as do the other networks, but they don't report the entire story. CNN is guilty of the same thing. For example, on Fox News, there's the story about Trump's threat to sanctuary cities to withhold federal funding if they continue to shelter their undocumented immigrants. Fox asks its viewers, "What's wrong with that?" Then it goes on to list crimes committed by these undocumented immigrants in various cities. Trump just wants to protect Americans. Bill O'Reilly (yes, he's an evening pundit - so sue me) and others get this puzzled look on their faces and wonder out loud how liberals can possibly want sanctuary cities to protect this sort of criminal element. And if this type of reporting is all I ever saw, I would probably be a Trump supporter, too.

But there is, of course, more to the story. There is the human aspect. City governments know that the vast, vast majority of these undocumented immigrants are a contributing part of their workforce. And they know that the children of undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their families didn't have a choice in being here. Most of them grew up in America and, except for their place of birth, are just as much American as Trump. These people need protecting from the long arm of the federal government.

It strikes me as odd that the federal government wants states to decide about education policy or about whether to grant women the right to choose to have an abortion. But when it comes to things like rounding up DREAMers or even lately threatening federal action if local officials (Chicago) don't clean up their act, it's ok to force federal action on local governments.

I think what all news consumers should do as much as time will permit is to watch the news from multiple sources in order to get a fuller picture of what is really going on in the world and how this news affects average Americans. The same stories are reported on all networks, but the emphasis is almost always different. I think people have gotten used to tuning in to only the news channels that reflect the opinion they already hold, and thus their worldview is strengthened. But the country is severely polarized. And there are two sides (at least) to every issue. It wouldn't hurt if more people were open to the opposing views. That can start by forcing oneself to watch the news channel you hate more often. And it would also help if all of us would spend more time reading and watching news from more sources that don't report news with a slant but only report the actual facts, even if those facts have been analyzed. BBC News and NPR come to mind. It might not change your worldview, because people clearly resist changing their worldviews, but at least it will enhance your understanding of why so many people disagree with you on the issues.

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