Beware the Squeaky Wheels
A quick scroll through the Fox News and MSNBC home pages today showed some interesting headlines.
Fox News reported on Anderson Cooper apparently being excited about white people becoming a minority in America, some liberal talking about how Democrats should destroy rather than negotiate with Trump supporters, and a CNN reporter being accused of assault.
MSNBC reported on Trump’s ICE Chief defending ICE raids leaving children crying, the “Trump Team” (whatever that is) rewriting the Statue of Liberty, and they also had a wonderful headline which deserves to be given by its title: “Trump Refuses to Condemn Anti-Democracy Crackdowns.”
A reader of either of those pages would not have an accurate picture of what the “other side” thinks or why they think it based on those stories (let alone just the headlines which is all most people read). Republicans would have a pretty false view of what Democrats value just based on those headlines, and Democrats would have a false view of what Republicans value based on those headlines.
As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It’s human nature to pay attention to the “squeakiest wheels” on the other side of an issue – especially when it comes to political issues. But it’s morally reprehensible when media organizations intentionally focus on those “squeaky wheels” to present an inaccurate image of their political opponents and their values.
Be careful about the human tendency of focusing on the loudest, squeakiest wheels from the opposing side. In other words, don’t be too quick to characterize the other side by the ridiculous loud mouths. There’s a very good chance they are an outlier that was just an easy target. Especially beware of any media organization that seems to make it look like the other side is nothing but a bunch of loud, squeaky wheels with whom you cannot possibly sympathize or reason. That’s just a convenient, extreme political narrative.
At the end of the day, there are serious political disagreements at play. Good citizens of a republic search diligently for points of agreement and the actual points of disagreement on a fundamental level. Finding those points of agreement or disagreement with reasonable people from the other side of the political spectrum is impossible if their voices are drowned out by the squeakiest wheels.
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Kyle Huitt is currently an M.A. student in Western Michigan University’s philosophy program. He graduated from Hillsdale College in 2019 with a B.A. in philosophy and a minor in history. He has spoken at various Christian apologetics events and writes regularly about religious and political issues.