Yet another talking head at a major news network has uttered something both he and his employer regret and that he probably would never have said if he were staring the subject of his tirade in the eye. Oh, the miracles of television.
Left-leaning MSNBC host Ed Shultz is out a week’s pay and a week’s work after calling conservative radio host Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” and a “talk slut” on his program this week. He issued what seemed to be a heartfelt apology on air, and now he’s taking his medicine as he should with the MSNBC suspension.
But can we expect anything else from this talking-head-saturated, vitriol-laced TV culture that we try to pass off as journalism? I don’t think so. Schultz’s is just latest offense from blowhards from all political persuasions.
Whether we’re talking about left-leaning or right-leaning hosts, atheists or Christians, saying the various radio and TV programs like Shcultz’s are real journalism is like calling the WWE an organization of world-class sportsmen and the pinnacle of athletic competition. In reality, these shows are hyped-up entertainment, dressed as journalism, pandering to whatever class of people producers think will tune in.
So what’s the big deal about watching commentators on TV rather than reading op-ed columnists in the papers? What in the world does this have to do with worldview thinking or biblical perspective?
Journalism is supposed to be about truth. It’s supposed to be about uncovering facts. It’s supposed to be about better informing our citizenry so its members can make better decisions in all facets of life.
Shouldn’t we be more interested in truth than in entertainment? As Christians especially, shouldn’t we care more about getting our hands on information that can help us live more Kingdom-oriented lives, focused on the necessity and beauty of the Gospel? Instead of just consuming the information spat at us in (often times) arrogance, shouldn’t we look to digest information, think on it, and do something meaningful with that information?
This full-of-hot-air culture is how we have managed to consumerize journalism. If we don’t like the news we hear from this outlet, we’ll just click on over to another show with a whole different spin. What does that say about Truth? Much like we consumerize material possessions, art, and even church, if the news we get doesn’t make us feel better about ourselves and our ideas, we toss it for news that will. That’s not truth, and it’s difficult to have a working philosophy of Truth (note the capital T), without grounded ideas of what reality is. Furthermore, I’m convinced lazily listening to talking heads makes us less able to think critically about a very complex world that needs people with renewed hearts and minds.
As a journalist, my objective in everything I write — in both news stories and in opinion pieces — is to write from a God’s eye perspective. That’s (hopefully, with the help of the Holy Spirit) my bias. I think that’s how all Christians should try to look at every issue as we produce information and consume it.
And that’s the problem with the spin put on by the Ed Shultzes, the Keith Olbermanns, the Bill O’Reillys, the Glenn Becks, the Sean Hannitys, the Rush Limbaughs, and countless others. The God’s eye perspective doesn’t need spin. Or shouting matches. Or name-calling.