We need to ask more why questions of our leaders

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.

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24 thoughts on “We need to ask more why questions of our leaders

  1. You realize as well as I do that those folks would never answer your questions. But as far as fair reporting goes, it is possible (!) that the news is skewed because the corporations own the media and they make sure we hear and read whether want us to hear and read. Or does this sound too conspiratorial??

      • I wish WordPress would allow us to fix typos on a comment to another’s blog. I made one (again) on my response to yours, but can fix it on my end.

    • Hugh, I agree. They would likely answer another question. I think the media does not want to pay for better reporting and do not want to offend commercial sponsors, shareholders and viewers. If they create too much cognitive dissonance they will frighten their audience and they would run up to papa. Barney had spoken to this issue on some previous posts. BTG

      • Precisely. It’s all about what there sponsors will pay for. And folks do not want to watch doomsday predictions — even if they are true.

    • The corporate media’s are now often financially tied into the subjects being reported on, or the topics of conversation. Questioning someone on a large defense contract, for example, might mean affecting their financial investments made by another branch of their company. Independent journalism is an oxymoron today.

      • Thanks for opining on this. Oxymoron is the right term. As an easy, trivial example, CBS Good Morning News will invariably have an author on their show the day of a book release, as their sister company is publishing said book.

      • Amen. Anyone with some integrity and some chutzpah. As Barney has noted the best investigative reporting is being done outside of the US or within documentaries. Yet, very few pay attention.

  2. There is a well regarded Japanese negotiating technique called “The 5 Why’s.” Loosely translated, it means you will finally reach the truth only after asking “why?” 5 times. Speaking from experience, the technique has served me will in my career.

    If we could only get our “journalists” to pursue such a technique in covering their subjects, instead of claiming air time with the deep questions, or regurgitating PR pieces, we might get to the truth of the matter.

    I hate to continue beating a dead fish, but this is exactly why I continue to emphasize that we must work hard to look behind the curtain, to ascertain the motives, agenda, and conclude to the best of our ability what the truth actually is.

    Great post, on a great topic.

    • Thanks Barney. I like that concept of the 5 Whys. Also, if a journalist has done some homework, they may know the person is lying and keep asking the why’s. Check out Hugh’s comment, as you have spoken to his concern on earlier posts. BTG

    • There is an art to not answer a question. Usually if a politician does not answer the question, they change the question and answer that one. Kind of like the Governor played by Charles Durning in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

      • I decided a long time ago that anyone who actually WANTS to be a politician has no business BEING a politician – it just means they are greedy, power mongering pricks! Female OR male! 😮

    • Leiah, these looks very much worth the read written by a credible resource. This is the kind of dialogue our country’s leaders need to be having instead of fighting battles against people who want to tell you things are not really occurring or it is being blown out of proportion. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend, BTG

      • You are very welcome… and you are very correct. The rich (who made their money stealing from you and I – a lot of it in the banking theft) don’t want things to change, because they would have to change the way they do things, and that would eat into their profit margins….
        You have a great weekend as well….

      • Elizabeth Warren tells a great story in her book “A Fighting Chance” about the CEO of a bank who excused her from a meeting when he realized her idea while helping people more, would make less money for his bank. His bank made more money appearing to help people than actually helping them with their debt consolidation.

      • I watched a show called “Leverage”. At the end, the last few shows, the whole thing revolved around them stealing “The List” – all the information about the people who robbed the people of the US – Bankers, rich people, etc. How much they stole, where it is stashed. The show revolved around a group of thieves who were “Robin Hoods” helping people who were hurt by big corporations. I loved the program. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1103987/
        Beth Riesgraf as Parker was my favorite character…. 😉 if you get Netflix, you might check it out. I loved seeing the bad guys get their backsides kicked!

  3. Note to Readers: Since Senator Rubio is getting fanfare as the young gun, there are few why questions to ask him. Why did you heavily participate in a bipartisan Senate bill on immigration taking a bow once done, and now disown it? Why are four counties close to where you live spending $200 million to hold back the encroaching sea coming up through street drains and into houses, when according to you they are wasting their time and money as climate change is not real. That money could be used elsewhere, but maybe, just maybe they are more concerned than you are about what the rest of the world is concerned with. To be brutally frank, if I was a politician from Florida, I would be damned concerned about climate change being surrounded on three sides by ocean.

    • You know, if it weren’t so deadly serious it would be funny. Will those folks just hold their noses as the water rises around them, continuing to deny climate change??!!

      • At some point, there will be an “oh shit” reaction, when low sea level areas like Miami, Norfolk and New York, see increasing sea encroachment.

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