Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Kathleen Hall Jamieson on Elusive Objectivity

Kathleen Hall Jamieson of Annenberg Public Policy Center argues that fact-checking attempts to ensure "fidelity to the knowable." compliments—the goal is to connect the public to local broadcasters to encourage them to insist on accuracy of third party ads before airing them.
Here are links to the sites mentioned:

I quote from the Huffington Post article which has a video of the send up:
On Tuesday's "Colbert Report," Stephen Colbert caught Rick Santorum telling a bold-faced lie about California colleges, and had quite a bit of fun poking fun at a candidate whose "facts" are about as dependable as an email forward sent by a distant relative.
Fact checking is obviously important, especially in the election period, and Jamieson has done a service in promoting fact checking. It is also important to consider whether speakers are trying to avoid your attending to that portion of the knowable that they find contrary to their interests. Some try the magicians' trick of diverting your attention to one hand and away from the other hand which is actually performing the trick. Thus, some politicians seek to direct your attention to the climate-gate emails in order to divert your attention from the mass of evidence that human activity is causing global warming.

More important in this video is Jamieson's observation that there is a great deal in the media which is not about "facts" but rather about values and forecasts, things that can not be checked in time for decision making if at all. A lot of political advertising, especially in this time of the SuperPACs, seeks to motivate emotions and promote "motivated reasoning" in favor of one or the other point of view. Here too, one should seek to identify the "meaning" of the advert in order to evaluate its validity, but one should also wonder if there are more valid "meanings" that might better be attended to but are avoided by the advert.

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