Many of you have asked about the results of the experiment my left-leaning sister and I (right-leaning)agreed to perform. (See my blog dated February 18, 2010.) Sister Left, Sister Right
In this experiment, we each selected a program from a media source which we both agreed was biased to the “right” — Fox News, and the “left” — MSNBC. I asked her to watch “Special Report with Bret Baier” on Fox News, and she asked me to watch “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC. We felt these two programs tended to be “fair and balanced.”
I watched 2.5 of Rachel Maddow’s shows, trying to keep an open mind. Initially, I found much of what she said provocative, and worth considering — after all, I was trying to keep an open mind. However, the more I listened to her, the more offended I became at her sarcasm and wisecracking, usually at the expense of conservatives. The longer I watched, the harder it became to keep my mind open to her views and opinions.
Believe me, I realize this happens all the time on “the right,” also. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh — all present opinions with which I generally agree, but I am often “turned off” by their presentation, and I wonder if those center-minded, and certainly left-minded people must shut their minds off to it, also.
As for my sister, she did watch Bret Baier, and commented that she felt it was a fairly balanced (no pun intended,) and calm, unemotionally presented news program.
But shortly after that, when I asked her what she thought of later editions, she commented that she had decided that watching or listening to politically-oriented programs — on either side of the political spectrum — brought her unnecessary anxiety. She told me she didn’t think it was worth it to have that kind of stress in her life, and she didn’t really want to participate in the experiment anymore.
I was disappointed, but I also understood, especially after recently getting into a political discussion with a friend with whom I’d previously been able to discuss any difference. On this particular instance, we’d gotten into a discussion about social justice or injustice, as the case may be. Should we take from the rich to give to the poor? Is it “fair?” And what about bailouts? This discussion did not remain calm and unemotional as most of our previous discussions had. Things were said by both of us. And though they may have been intended to provoke thought or change, instead, they brought hurt feelings.
It was a sad eye-opener for me. If I can’t discuss differences with a sister I love and respect, and a good friend who I’ve respected for several years, the vitriol and lack of respect for differences of opinion really has gotten out of hand.
I did not come away from this experiement with any answers. Only more questions — the first one being, “Why?”