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THOUGHTS IN PROGRESS

November 11, 2016

I don’t know why the media endorses presidential candidates. Once you publicly declare your position, you would naturally start defending your position. Gradually everything you say will be positional. Positional debates are not constructive.

I’m not saying that the media should not have an “editorial” department; in fact, I believe they should. There are theories, hypotheses, and speculations that cannot be backed up by facts. I think this is the hole that bloggers filled. I noticed this during the financial crisis of 2008. Because the news media were limited to reporting what can be backed up by facts and avoid making speculations, I turned to bloggers for more relevant information and their expert interpretations of what was happening.

Theories, hypotheses, and speculations do not have to be positional. The media could make their best guesses at what Henry Paulson was thinking during the crisis, and they wouldn’t be taking any sides. It’s still value-neutral. They could debate about the potential impact of Trump’s immigration policies without making a value judgment, simply speculate what they think will happen.

Speculation is often looked at as a bad thing but we all need to speculate to some degree to prepare ourselves for the future, and the media play an important role in that. They cannot provide just facts. Their audience also need structural frameworks to make their own judgment. Facts alone are not useful unless the reader is an expert on the subject. It’s like supplying random ingredients without teaching them the basic skills of cooking. But they don’t need to tell the readers that lasagna is better than ziti. Endorsing a presidential candidate is as absurd as declaring which religion is the best.

If they are going to claim that they are unbiased and objective, they need to do a much better job at being unbiased. Otherwise, they need to declare themselves to be a biased media outlet and state their bias up-front. It’s the pretense that’s harmful. In this election, I think we witnessed how harmful it is. The media was completely out of touch with the half of this country and mislead the country.