Chapter 16

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People choose their news sources, if they do choose news sources, for a variety of reasons.

Mostly, probably, they choose what feels comfortable to them. If they're conservative they'll listen to Fox and Rush, if they're liberal they'll listen to almost everything else.

But, there's another dimension, or if you want to say, another yardstick. That's the division between attractiveness and accuracy. Some people want accuracy, evenhandedness, and respect for any opposing-but-reasonable opinion. Some people want someone who is attractive and upright (Sarah Palin) or amusing and crude (Bill Maher) or some other criterion that has nothing to do with being credible or making the world a better place.

On the conservative side, maybe Rush Limbaugh wins the attractiveness contest, with a terrific radio voice, enthusiasm and cheer, and a benevolent attitude. On the other hand, Bill O'Reilly is considered unattractive by great numbers of people, because he goes where the truth takes him and doesn't cling to a philosophical template. And he's not ashamed to assert his choices, which makes modern society see him as a mean old grownup who won't serve them candy bars for dinner.

On the liberal side, attractiveness falls to The New York Times, which everyone knows is America's Greatest Newspaper, and it makes you sophisticated if you read it. This characterization is strongly attractive to the human psyche, but it is a long-obsolete perception. The NYT has for years been mostly a left-wing advertisement, with sarcastic socialists' opinion columns headlined in the front page above a mediocre news section.

So what's the newspaper on the "accurate" side of the attractiveness/accuracy fence? I don't know. Does anyone have any suggestions? There is a weekly newsmagazine called The Week that quotes every news story from every perspective. That would be as close to comprehensive as you can get, although there's absolutely nothing that actually links inclusiveness to accuracy.