With the mainstream news media largely asleep at the switch, fewer people are asking leaders “why” questions. On so many of the national news outlets, important topics are not covered at all or glossed over with an eye toward more even-handed coverage. I am all for covering the news in an even-handed way, but it needs to be data-based and commensurate with the issue. Some issues are not 50/50 issues, so they should not be portrayed that way unless one side is not getting a fair reading of the data.
It is like expert witnesses in a court case, where you are only allowed two. What if one side is supported by 97% of the experts and the other side is supported by only 3%. With a 50/50 presentation, if the one with the least popular opinion is a better presenter or arguer, then the side he supports might win. I use these numbers as an example, as the current debate over climate change being man-influenced is supported by 97% of the scientists, with the contrary view being held by only 3%, often by scientists who are not environmental scientists.
Yet, the dilemma is the scientists who are in the 97% may not be the best of presenters of complex information. And, with news being less deep on subjects, it is not uncommon for the news reporters or talk-show hosts to get lazy and have someone who is disguised as an unbiased source who is in essence a public relations person paid by the industry. So, what is presented as scientific opinion is not as such, and the person purveying this opinion is a far smoother presenter than the actual scientist. These folks are portrayed in the movie “Merchants of Doubt” who are handsomely paid to throw water on scientific data and researched opinion.
But, we need to ask more why questions of our leaders and these individuals, as the arguments may not be well grounded as presented. I wrote recently about the states of Florida and Wisconsin both passing measures that say public officials cannot use the words “climate change” or “global warming” in statements or in writing. Why? “If your argument as a climate change denier is so solid, then why must you squelch dissent? The only logical answer is you do not want others to hear the data-based arguments behind climate change.
Another why question for the governor of Florida is “if climate change is not real, then why are four counties in Florida surrounding Miami spending $200 million to improve infrastructure to stave off already encroaching sea water?” And, the bigger question for the Florida governor, is “since Florida is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by sea water, why are you not more concerned by man-influenced climate change?”
While we are on the subject of protecting our environment, let’s scroll back to 2005, when Vice President Dick Cheney inserted language in the 2005 Energy Policy Act saying that frackers would not be subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act or Clean Air Act and the EPA could not prosecute them under those acts. Why? If fracking is so safe as the forthright spokeswomen on the commercials tells us and as we are constantly told by industry, why does the Vice President, who is former President of Halliburton, have this language inserted? I have asked this of public officials numerous times and have never gotten an answer. This is one of those questions asked of Jack Nicholson questions in “A Few Good Men.” The answer is we cannot handle the truth – fracking is not safe; nothing that hard is. And, the data shows it.
We citizens must be asking those questions and more of them. Here are a few more.
– Senator Cruz, why do you expect people to vote for you after you single-handedly shut the government down hurting many people and causing a delay in signing two important trade agreements. And, why do you not like Obamacare as it is helping so many in your state who were previously uninsured, as Texas was dead last in the country with the most uninsureds?
– Senator McConnell, why did you have a report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service buried before the 2012 election which showed Trickle Down Economics does not work?
– President Obama, why is your presidency one of the least transparent ones after you told us you would lead the way in transparency?
– Former Governor Jeb Bush, why do you have your brother’s former foreign affairs advisor when he mishandled so many things (around false pretenses to invade Iraq, letting Osama Bin Laden get away early, for firing the Iraqi police force who now are part of ISIS, for not listening to your generals and going in with too few troops, etc.)?
– Speaker Boehner, Senator McConnell, former Speaker Gingrich, you are all recorded on video saying climate change is real and man-influenced in 2008, yet you changed your position and are on video saying the science is not clear in 2015 – why? Mr. Gingrich, why did you say you were wrong to say you were wrong about climate change, when you ran for President after doing a TV commercial in 2008 with Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying you had changed your opinion and climate change is real?
– Former Secretary of State Clinton, tell us again why the emails were deleted?
– Former Senator Jim DeMint tell us why you changed your mind on Romneycare after actively advocating it for the entire country once Obamacare copied much from it?
– Finally, for any politician, why did you change your position on this issue?
There is plenty more to choose from, but we must ask these and more why questions and do it repeatedly until we get answers. Why? Because not many will.