The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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The destructive force of cable news

Conservatives, stop watching Fox News. Liberals, stop watching MSNBC. There may be great money for news organizations in telling people what they want to hear, but political activists can do no greater disservice to their cause than surrounding themselves with affirmations of their worldview.

There is nothing easier than to tell someone they’re right. It’s similarly easy for people to be told they’re right. But in the world of politics, this is doing more to degrade the level of public discourse than any other phenomenon.

If activists really want to strengthen their ability to argue successfully, and therefore advance their cause, they should spend much more time listening to people disagreeing with them. When confronted with opposition, arguments can either fall apart completely and get replaced by stronger ones, or have their holes pointed out so they can be patched up, ultimately strengthening the argument.

But when activists surround themselves with yes men, their arguments get weaker. They get caught off guard by the very notion that someone could disagree with them. Unable to defend their argument because they never before have had to, activists move to ad hominem attacks instead. Opponents end up dehumanized, as people on either side are so convinced that they’re right they assume the other side is evil.

They aren’t. There are good people on every side of a political argument, and disagreement with someone wouldn’t lead to so much name calling if people realized this.

Ideologically aligned news outlets exacerbate this problem by allowing people to self select their flow of information. When news organizations only report the news that their viewers want to hear, or only present political arguments that align with what their viewers believe, this ends up creating different realities, different histories in which each side has different versions of the facts on which they base their arguments.

Viewers of MSNBC not only don’t have conservative points of view made available to them, but don’t hear news stories that may put their liberalism in a bad light. The same can be said for Fox News and its treatment of liberal points of view and stories that may put their conservatism in a bad light.

For the good of the country, and for your own ability to effectively dissect your opponent’s arguments, leave the echo chambers created by Fox and MSNBC.

Find a few different news sources that go into more depth, that do more than just recite talking points and pass them off as analysis. Find some that do so from different perspectives. You may come to realize that the other side has some good points to be made, you may find out that they care just as much about the state of the country as you do.

You may find you have the same goals and disagree only on the method by which we get there. And once you realize that, it’s harder to label the other side as demonic and racist. It’s harder to label the other side as Nazis or socialists.

People will finally be forced to debate all of the facts, not just their version of the facts. One can only hope this will lead to a much needed change in how Americans interact with politics.

Keene is a senior majoring in political science, economics and public policy.

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