by: Mary Ryan
The GOP presidential nomination race has been full of surprises. With scandals, dropouts, accusations, and confusion, support has shifted from candidate to candidate. In order to stay politically informed, I have recently turned to the media in order to figure out just what these clean-cut politicians advocate beyond their catchy slogans. The world of politics has always eluded me. During the 2008 election, I supported John McCain for the same reasons that any eighth-grade girl would: Sarah Palin, former Alaskan governor and his then-running mate, had a funny accent, voluminous hair, and cute glasses. As I’ve grown in maturity and curiosity, however, politics have become less about hairstyles and more about splitting hairs. Who has the right ideas about the future of America? Why does our tax system work the way it does? So, I began a search for answers; consequently, I was left with as many questions as Rick Santorum has sweater-vests. My opinions regarding the 2012 GOP nomination have been varied, and I believe the media has done its fair share in twisting facts and presenting misleading data that has confused me and, indeed, many Americans. Both left and right-wing news sources have misled the American people by presenting sound-byte generalizations of the GOP candidates.
In November of last year, Reverend Al Sharpton and MSNBC’s “Lean Forward” Campaign launched an anti-GOP ad that suggested the Republican party’s destruction of the United States economy. In the ad, Sharpton likens the GOP to a group of neighborhood children who all claim they did not eat a blueberry pie. Conventional analogy? No. Accusatory and unwarranted? Absolutely. The problem with ads like this is that they reach out to the American people with a familiar metaphor but have no evidence to support their claims. Propaganda like this persuades the American people that the GOP is not to be trusted. Another example of left-wing bias towards right-wing candidates is a recent MSNBC bash of former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Also in November, MSNBC anchor Martin Bashir, along with Karen Finney and William Cohen, called Gingrich a “serial adulterer.” Even though Gingrich’s private life has nothing to do with his politics, the media still chooses to tear his policies down through fallacious personal attacks. However, right-wing media often bolsters the pitfalls of conservatism. Fierce conservatives like Bill O’ Reilly have even admitted to the anti-liberal stance of networks like Fox News. Both sides of the media are prone to blaming one another for national issues, especially when election time is near. The problem posed by these hasty generalizations and blame games is thatthe American people are not getting fair or balanced information, not even from the news station who bears that slogan. Overall, I believe the general population should, to paraphrase Sarah Palin on the night of January 23 Florida GOP Debate, do its own homework. When asked by Sean Hannity which GOP candidate she would support, Palin replied with typical Alaskan hardiness. First stating that her opinion was “probably not worth a hill of beans,” she encouraged voters to decide for themselves. I, for the first time since the eighth grade, agree with Palin. On a campaign trail of twisted endorsements and distorted facts, the most important source of opinion a voter has is himself or herself. The media can provide colorful commentary, but it is only healthy if paired with a fair amount of personal investigation. Rather than consulting the often skewed opinions of news anchors and broadcast journalists, I propose we consult the hard evidence of our politicians’ work: bills, resolutions, and even those messy Romney tax returns. Perhaps we will be able to choose a candidate, whether Republican or Democrat, with firm and informed resolve in the choices we make instead of “flip floppin’ around like a halibut getting ready to be clubbed.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist another Palin-ism.