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O'Reilly foments mistrust of Internet "information from machines"

Reported by Chrish - August 7, 2006 -

Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" from last Thursday, 8/3/06, should have been filed under his "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day" instead. His largely elderly audience is statistically less computer-savvy and fearful of the "Internets" (all those tubes!) and he feeds that mistrust in case they're starting to hear things that don't jibe with the agenda.

Here's the memo and my comments:

"The Internet has drastically changed the way news reaches the public, but our leaders have not figured that out yet.

Of course they have - they have their own websites. He's trying to paint the entire Internet as a great subversive cesspool of misinformation.

When something happens, word almost instantaneously reaches millions of people and the event is defined by bloggers, many of whom have an agenda. So misinformation and false analysis is instantly out there and sometimes widely accepted by Americans getting their information from machines.

Unlike ten years ago, when they got their misinformation and false analysis from a living, breathing, television set.

For example, Americans have turned against the war in Iraq because it is widely perceived as being a losing cause. But is it really? On the Middle East, most Americans have no idea why Hezbollah even exists or who's winning the conflict. And why are we paying almost a buck more for a gallon of gas this year than we did last year? What exactly made that happen?

Unless you watch cable news or read a good newspaper, and those are rare, you'll have a hard time figuring out this dangerous and complicated world.

Horse hockey. The only way to get in-depth and diverse news and perspectives is from the Internet, and polls show that most people still rely on television news. If the majority are ill-informed it's because their main source is television - the other machine.

That's where an effective leader comes in. Not only do our elected officials have to make policy, they now have to clearly explain it themselves. And they must do it over and over and over, because we're a distracted bunch.

Drill, drill, drill. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. This is truly FOX's forte.

Long gone are the days when FDR could reach most of the nation on the radio with his fireside chats. Gone are the days when Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley could nightly define the world for the American public.

Now if a president wants the folks to support him, he must be a teacher, a persuader. He must sell his policies to a public that's often confused. In other words, our leaders must fight the machines.

In other words, he has to be a salesman supremo to counter all that information available now. This "fighting the machines" theme is so totally luddite.

That is a daunting task, but it is Leadership 101 in the Internet age."

Leadership 101 is about what we've got.

This is yet another riff in the old "don't trust anyone but us" tune. The mythological liberal media and the reality-based community are under constant assault from FOX, whose viewers scoff at the New York Times and NPR/PBS. Rather than encouraging independent critical thinking their method is to eliminate other sources as untrustworthy or biased, leaving their followers ignorant and manipulable. It's comparable to some forms of abuse.