A recent Gallup poll revealed that Americans' confidence in the media's ability to report "the news fully, accurately, and fairly" has returned to its previous all-time low of 40 percent.
Is anyone surprised? With the major news shows parading out the same pundit hacks who were wrong the first time about Weapons of Mass Destruction pre-Iraq invasion, Americans everywhere are probably having severe flashbacks. In a perfect world, there would be a rule that if you are grotesquely wrong about one war, you have to sit the next war out. You're benched. Come back the following season and don't lie next time.
Here we are. Again. And Bill "American Forces Will Be Welcomed In Baghdad As Liberators" Kristol is back to say, no really, ISIS is mere seconds away from knocking on your front door (even though it's difficult to remember the last time Bill was right about, well, anything). For the sake of viewers, instead of stating the publications for which pundits write, networks should instead broadcast their records on issues. For example: Bill Kristol: Wrong about Iraq War. Wrong about Afghanistan. Just a heads up. This man is 0 and 2.
During an interview with Laura Ingraham in August, Kristol claimed "intellectuals overthink things" like bombing large swaths of populated territory and later added: "What's the harm of bombing [ISIS] at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens?"
You know, other than the potential for killing innocent civilians and exponentially increasing the likelihood of further blowback. What's the harm? Sure, Syrians might be claiming civilians are dying in these strikes, but you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs, right, Bill?
The conversation among some so-called liberals hasn't been any better. In September, columnist and commentator Mark Shields represented "the left" in a PBS NewsHour debate about ISIS. Shields made the point that it's up to Congress to declare war. A good suggestion. Unfortunately, he then went on to say the U.S. military can't establish order and peace with airstrikes alone, hurriedly adding, "I mean airstrikes are wonderful. They're antiseptic. They're at a distance. The possibility of your own casualties is finite."
Airstrikes are wonderful! What's the harm in them?
If these are the parameters of debate, we're in a lot of trouble. When the discussion of military action ranges from airstrikes to ground invasion, there is no room for peace -- for the option of not bombing at all -- for not killing civilians, not furthering enraging the rest of the planet, and not ensuring future generations of children grow up loathing America and its allies.
Beheadings are unquestionably terrible crimes, but most terrorism analysts agree that the Obama administration has exaggerated the threat of ISIS. Foreign Policy's Rose Brooks coined the term "threatiness" for the terrorist organization, as in ISIS definitely puts out threatening vibes, but is not the imminent threat the administration and some pundits claim.
Meanwhile, the much larger threat of climate change continues to go under-reported in the media, even though hundreds of thousands of people recently gathered in New York City for the People's Climate March to draw attention to the crisis of global warming. Most media outlets completely ignore the march, and the major Sunday morning news shows entirely ignored it.
But to be fair, there were other pressing matters to discuss. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting notes on NBC's Meet the Press, anchor Chuck Todd presented a segment about how midterm elections should be seen as a battle between Chick-Fil-A, traditionally favored by Republicans, and Democrats' favorite, Starbucks.
Chuck and his producers chose to lead with chicken even though the World Health Organization estimates between 2030 and 2050 climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress. The direct damage costs to health is estimated to be between $2-4 billion per year by 2030.
And if Chuck and his ilk are really hungering for a sensational terrorism angle on the whole End of The World thing, they have that too. This year, the Department of Defense's Quadrennial Defense Review stressed climate change threatens global stability, stating a warming planet will likely "exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs." It is this "resource competition" that will place more stress on poor, struggling communities, leading to "social tensions" which are "conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence."
Seem like a big story, right? Alas, the establishment seems determined to invert reality by presenting a bad, but relatively isolated, group like ISIS as The Threat to End All Threats, while under-reporting the real crisis: climate change.
No wonder Americans don't trust the messenger.
Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein are the authors of Newsfail.