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‘Shut up’ is not news

Posted 7/11/14

Americans deserve better than the latest drivel trumpeted by an NBC/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll about which politician should shut up.In America, the idea should matter, not the voice. News is …

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‘Shut up’ is not news

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Americans deserve better than the latest drivel trumpeted by an NBC/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll about which politician should shut up.

In America, the idea should matter, not the voice. News is what you need to know to help plan future decisions better. News helps make your mental map of reality more accurate before you have to make those decisions.

A useful poll would inquire which positions on particular subjects one would prefer. A useful poll would consider why. A useful poll would spare us pointless feelings that don’t bear on the understanding of issues. That would be entertainment, not news, and would be unbecoming of major reputable news organizations.

The fundamental principle of democracy is not majority rules or 1 person–1 vote, but that the smallest voice among us may suggest a better way of doing things and that individual citizens, tuned to consider issues, get to decide for themselves what position they prefer to take. “Who should shut up” does not fit into the equation. “Shut up” is not one of the founders’ first principles.

Perhaps NBC News and the Journal made their mistake because often in journalism school, students learn to prioritize reader interest, not what news is. It takes a classical liberal arts education to figure that news is what you need to know to better plan your future. News is what helps make your mental map of reality more accurate. Turning the sheep herd is what politicians do to keep control.

The NBC/WSJ/Annenberg turn-off-the-spigot question is not news, but dishonest noise designed to create catchy headlines to shape a political battlefield.

Be careful how you read. We live in an Orwellian world where telling others to shut up is considered patriotic.

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