Good decisions require good information

Can anyone make good decisions without good information? On the verge of writing a piece in favor of a particular candidate for president, I realize that information quoted is only as good as its source. Never has this been more clear to me in the wake of Rathergate.

I recently had an online chat with an old friend as we debated the value of television news programs. I’ve been so frustrated with all of them that I advocated going the extra mile and shunning all secondary sources. “Look at the record” was my mantra in the discussion.

What frustrates me most isn’t media bias, although that’s right up there. It’s media laziness. Nearly every story on television and radio news goes like this:

Senator Smith blasted Representative Jones today on the issue of abortion (insert sound bite here), while Representative Jones spoke to crowds about Senator Smith’s record on the environment (another sound bite).

No checking of the record. No verifying the veracity of what was said. Just repeating what was said. Here’s a real example that has been getting a lot of superficial play on the “news” lately. John Kerry has been hitting George W. Bush on the issue of health care using the flu vaccination shortage, taunting, “Sounds just like [Bush’s] health care plan: Hope and pray you do not get sick.”  

Sort of cute, I suppose, but anyone who saw the second presidential debate would remember that before this shortage became news, John Kerry stood on the stage with George W. Bush and insisted that under his administration, government will start bulk buying of all drugs in the same way that President Clinton started the bulk-buying of vaccines. The same way that made it so unprofitable to produce vaccines that we now have half the number we originally ordered. How’s that for a flip flop? How’s that for “news coverage”?

Digging deeper, or laziness?
Journalism, or a “he said, she said”?
Reporting, or regurgitation?

Key: Correct answer to all of the above, B.

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