Last night NPR called me a “low knowledge” voter. They might as well have used the word “stupid” or “unintelligent”. The commentators were reviewing Paul Ryan’s speech, and reviewing the many “falsehoods” it contained. NPR pointed out that he criticized President Obama for inaction on the Bowles/Simpson commission report. Fox News had interviewed Ryan who said he voted against Bowles Simpson because it didn’t address entitlements. NPR also pointed out that Ryan criticized the closing of a plant in Janesville, WI and blamed Mr. Obama, even though the plant had closed under President Bush. Ryan in his interview on Fox acknowledged the closing under Bush, but said candidate Obama had stood in the plant and promised it would be open for 100 years with the help of the government.
NPR’s analysis was so strongly one-sided that they said the only people Ryan’s speech would appeal to would be “low knowledge voters” – those who didn’t bother to analyze the issues. One commentator even said that if you wanted to counteract Paul Ryan’s case on Medicare to these voters you would need to simply say he intended to abolish Medicare. Which, of course, is not Ryan’s latest proposal on Medicare.
I have made it a habit to listen to both NPR and Fox News. I get two very different perspectives on issues and then have the opportunity to weigh the information I’ve heard. I used to teach a class on critical thinking at Belmont University and have written a book on the topic. I make it a practice to look at both sides of an issue, explore the facts, then run my analysis through my values and make a decision. My values include fiscal responsibility. That is the piece NPR is missing. That any voter could actually be intelligent and vote for Romney/Ryan seems to be beyond their comprehension.
During the Juan Williams debacle in 2010, NPR was accused of not being objective. They asked for listeners to share with them times they hadn’t presented both sides of a story. In one segment, a listener joined them and shared his perspective of their biased journalism, and the interviewer couldn’t wrap his brain around the concept that he hadn’t been fair.
Last night NPR not only was blatantly pro-Obama and offensive , they lacked integrity. If they claim to be objective, they should walk the talk. Giving both sides of the story would have been the right thing to do. Take it from a “high knowledge” voter.