Adding a Log to the Distrust of the Media Fire

Overwhelming majorities of Americans say they don’t trust the media because of instances like this:

In covering remarks by President Obama, NPR reporter Ari Shapiro commented, “The American people agree with the president’s solution to the problem, combining spending cuts with tax revenues. Even a majority of Republican voters support that approach.”

That statement is suspect. It appears to be based on old polls taken prior to the Jan. 1 tax hike. I did a Google search for polls taken within the last month regarding support for further tax increases, and came up dry.

Moreover, you’ve probably noticed that any commentary that NPR adds to news stories, such as in this instance, is leftward biased. They want to try to make the listener think that the tax increases are right because that’s what “the American people” supposedly want.

Prior to conducting open heart surgery, does a heart surgeon take a poll to find out what the American people think is the best way to conduct the operation? Prior to building a bridge, does a bridge engineer take a poll to find out what the American people think is the best method to construct it? Prior to designing a new piece of software, does a computer programmer take a poll to find out what the American people think is the best software code to use?

So if the American people as a whole aren’t qualified to offer advice on the nitty-gritty of surgery, engineering, or computer programming, what makes NPR think that the American people are qualified to offer advice on the nitty-gritty of economics? Raising taxes is an intensely economic undertaking, with economists going to years of schooling in order to best analyze what effects raising taxes will have on the economy and society.

Moreover, of course a majority of the American people would like to sock it to the rich. Such a thought is emotionally satisfying to most people. Shadenfreude, particularly directed at the rich, is a common human trait. But economic policy should not be based on emotion, especially based on the emotions of a majority of the American people. In other words, NPR’s commentary that it snuck into its news story is not only suspect in terms of its accuracy, but it’s also absurd.

 

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