The Instigator
imabench
Pro (for)
Losing
4 Points
The Contender
dexterbeagle
Con (against)
Winning
5 Points

The FCC should add warning labels to news programs

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
dexterbeagle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/9/2015 Category: News
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 990 times Debate No: 71421
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

imabench

Pro

The FDA puts labels on food to let you know about their content
The MPAA rates movies to let you know about their content
The FCC puts labels on late night tv programs to let you know about its content

So why not let the FCC assign warning labels to news programs?

These warning labels would assign grades to tv programs on an ABCDF scale would assing grades to tv news programs based on the following criteria:

- How truthful the news programs are
- How biased the news programs are
- How competent news programs are at reporting news in a professional manner
- Whether or not news programs try to 'sensationalize' news

The grade that a news program would receive would then be displayed at all times on the screen (likely in one of the corners of the tv screen) to inform viewers who are regular watchers of a program or just come across the program flipping through tv channels whether or not the news outlet they are watching is reliable, credible, and overall trustworthy.

I will debate in favor of this idea, con will debate against this idea.

- First round acceptance only
- 4 rounds 8000 characters
- Anyone can accept
dexterbeagle

Con


I accept—your proposition immediately piqued my interest. Good luck, this is the first time I’ve debated someone of your caliber. It should be fun.


Debate Round No. 1
imabench

Pro

Okay, reasons and arguments why the FCC should label TV news programs displaying their accuracy and trustworthiness:

1) The media has gone insane with bias, fact stretching, and blatant lying.

Every journalist knows that journalism is founded on delivering the truth in the most unbiased, objective, and factual way possible, (http://en.wikipedia.org...) but you wouldn't know that by glancing at US tv programs. Everyone can see that Fox News has a clear conservative bias, that MSNBC has a clear liberal bias, that CNN is clearly incompetent when it comes to reporting news on any live event, and that all three of these news stations are guilty of fear-mongering, overly sensationalizing news stories, and spreading misinformation and disinformation, knowingly and/or unknowingly. Making news programs more accountable for the effect they have to tv viewers is for the better of everyone since more accurate news programs leads to a more informed US populace.

One of the ways to bring all these news stations back towards the line of decency and unbiased reporting, (It wont bring them all the way back sure, but it'll get the ball rolling) would be to have a clear warning label on all news station programs over how much these shows can be trusted. TV news programs naturally try to get the most viewers, but if viewers gravitate towards news sources that are the most accurate and unbiased, then all those shows that show clear bias or incompetence will try to deliver the news in a more unbiased, untwisted manner to upgrade their rating, and earn lure in more viewers seeking accurate information.



2) The FCC is competent enough to accurately rate news programs.

The FCC is already in charge of censoring certain curse words from tv shows during hours when those curse words aren't allowed to be said aloud, they already are in charge of making sure there isnt any nudity on tv shows that you dont need to pay a subscription to, and the FCC even has the ability to fine and even revoke the broadcasting licenses for tv programs that do not meet their standards and regularly violate them. I bring that last fact up to bring to light that the FCC is also not power-mad, as less than 1% of tv programs are not immediately granted renewal status
http://en.wikipedia.org...

The FCC is not a perfectly functioning government agency sure, but it is certainly competent enough to evaluate and assign accuracy ratings for tv news programs, and do so without any sort of prejudice aimed at the news stations they evaluate. There are programs that try to stretch the limits of what the FCC allows to be broadcasted all the time that never get shut down or punished for trying to push the limits, and because the FCC can operate without prejudice against programs that try to resist the FCC's own standards, you can also reason that the FCC can operate without prejudice against evaluating the accuracy of news programs they rate for accuracy.



3) There is a great need to take steps to reduce the political divide in this country

The current level of partisanship, measured in this case by how frequently members of congress DONT vote with their party, has approached a level of divide that hasn't been seen since the early 1900's.
http://www.bizjournals.com...

Thats PRE WWI dates we are referring to, when the Civil War was still in the memory of most americans. And TV has played a huge part in that, since the surge in partisanship on the hill has taken place primarily over the Bush and Obama years:
http://www.people-press.org...
http://www.washingtonpost.com...

As you can see from both links above, political polarization has crept upwards since the year 1997, which is funny, because Fox News happened to launch at the end of 1996, and MSNBC launched in the middle of 1996

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...

So right when the two most clearly biased tv news programs came into existence, that was nearly the exact moment when political polarization started an unending increase upwards to where it is today.

I really dont need to get into why deep and excessive political partisanship both in Congress and amongst the American populace is bad for the country. That being said, cutting down on the sensationalization and the spread of misinformation + disinformation will help bring the levels of political divide back down, or at the very least it will stop it or greatly slow it from increasing further, which is for the benefit of everyone in the United States. The more polarized the nation becomes politically, the more inclined we become to tearing the country apart one news story after another.


4) Tv programs play a huge role in this country.

Television is hands down the largest medium in which people obtain information about all sorts of news regarding politics, regularly being discovered as the news medium where people get their news from the most.

http://www.americanpressinstitute.org...
http://www.gallup.com...
http://www.people-press.org...
http://www.people-press.org...

Yes the internet is slowly creeping up as the primary source for where people get their news, but it will take several more years before it eclipses television as the main medium where people get their news, it ever does. Because television plays such a massive role in how people get news, it is of vital importance that television be brought into line for portraying the news in an accurate, non-sensationalizing manner.

It is for these reasons that the FCC should introduce ratings for news programs based on their accuracy, their competence, and whether or not they try to distort and twist facts, or blatantly state lies just to advocate a personal agenda.


5) Media itself has already proven to be a powerful source of influencing America.

The Spanish-American war is one of the clearest examples of how journalism can be warped and distorted into getting Americans to rush into something, since yellow journalism played a huge role in hyping up the explosion of the USS Maine that ultimately led to the breakout of war between the US and Spain.

http://en.wikipedia.org...;

In this day and age, America has far more enemies in the world then it did in the 1900's, and allowing an unrestrained media to try to oversensationalize news stories could easily dupe Americans into supporting an action that is very impulsive and ill-informed, which is why news-programs should be rated for accuracy. You could argue that television played a role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and at the current rate the political divide in the US is growing, its possible that such an event could happen again.


6) You can still choose to watch those shows that get low ratings.

This resolution only argues that the FCC should label news programs for their accuracy, nor revoke the broadcasting rights of those news programs that get low ratings. Therefore, even if a news station gets a bad rating for accuracy or objectivity, people will still have the ability to watch the program, and the program will still be able to broadcast.
dexterbeagle

Con

News networks [Fox, CNN, and MSNBC] have journalists within their organization but clearly, the shows with the highest rating are pundits and the most successful programs [O’Reilly, Hannity, Kelley, on Fox; Matthews, Hayes, Maddow on MSNBC and a 3D hologram a missing plane on CNN]. Pundits are not journalist; they are personalities with opinions, combining real news with editorial segments and guest commentary. Most Americans if polled would acknowledge that while these programs have a particular angle, overall they provide a fair (unbiased, objective) portrayal of whatever political pillow fighting took place over the course of the last twenty-four hours.

The real question is how is how would the FCC differentiate bias and truth, abstract categories into this rating system. Knowing my opponent is an adept debater, highly intelligent, and capable of parsing information in an impartial way, I decided to go back and re-watch The Rachel Maddow Show from last Friday [Selection based on the fact that Monday night Maddow was guest hosted by Steve Kornacki and because I still had Friday’s show on my DVR]. Anyway, assuming the members FCC consist of individuals with the same intelligence as my opponent I would like my opponent to demonstrate the application of the FCC label based on the detailed summaries I wrote up, including the sources Maddow used on the show to substantiate her points. So, here it is [I did not include every story because the full summary runs to about 3,000 words but if needed, I can post everything else in the comments section or somewhere on the site, whatever is convenient

[Rachel Maddow Show—back from a commercial break]

An oil tanker car exploded yesterday in Galena, Illinois (President Grant’s birthplace), fourteen derailed and firefighters were unable to extinguish the flames even after twenty-four hours. One tank car remains ripped open, leaking oil mixed with water doused from helicopter all day, threatens a makeshift pond next to the train track. And that pond is getting full, so they don’t want keep spraying more water on that burning car to keep that burning car from exploding if that means the pond with oil runoff water is going to breach its banks and go flooding into the Galena River and presumably into the Mississippi River and the Wild Life Refuge their near. Today, they made the decision to prevent polluting the waterways nearby they will instead “fire responders will retreat to a safe distance after water is no longer sprayed on the burning tank car” and inevitably the tanker will explode on its own.[1] Sheriff Kevin W. Turner’s office press release also added, “The cessation of water being sprayed onto the tank will lead to a heat-induced tear of the already-breached tank car, thereby protecting the waterway…”[2] The last train car explosion in West Virginia also followed this strategy. The Associated Press reported on July 13, 2014 “A string of fiery train derailments across the country has triggered a high-stakes but behind-the-scenes campaign to shape how the government responds to calls for tighter safety rules.”[3] The railcars that exploded in Galena were actually newer ones, ones that met a high safety standard. [Commercial break]

[Return from commercial] Contrary to economic forecasts that predicted slow job growth largely due to snowstorms throughout the country, the month of February saw a huge increase in job creation. Fortune Magazine even ran the headline Workers Rejoice: February hiring was huge with 295,000 jobs created.[4] The Washington Post reports this turnaround is a traumatic break from last year, and “For 12 months in a row, the United States has added at least 200,000 job—a sustained pace of hiring unmatched since 1994 and 1995.”[5] Taken together this means President Obama presides over an economy unseen since the Clinton boom years of the mid-to-late 1990s. Jobs projections combined the Chicago Tribune’s report of “Solid U.S. jobs report; unemployment rate at 5.5%.”[6] However, as Maddow reported, despite the sanguine picture provided by healthy job creation and lower unemployment number, Jack Lew the Secretary of Treasury spend a letter to House Speaker John Boehner that began, “As you know, in February 2014, Congress passed the Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act, suspending the statutory debt limit through March 15, 2015. Beginning on Monday, March 16, the outstanding debt of the United States will be at the statutory limit.” Therefore, the consequence as Secretary Lew notes, “Absent an increase in the debt limit, the Treasury Department will have to take extraordinary measures to continue to finance the government on a temporary basis.” At the end, the Secretary Treasury pleads with Speaker Boehner: “I hope that Congress will address this matter without controversy or brinksmanship.” [Commercial Break]

[Return from commercial break] More legal chaos in Alabama this week, as the Alabama Supreme Court told counties to stop issuing marriage licenses.[7] Right now, it is not clear when or where people can get married. George Takei took to Instagram with his husband displaying his ring finger, in a way that makes it appear as though he and his partner are using their middle finger. His post on Instagram reads, “Alabama just gave SCOTUS the finger by halting marriage equality there despite federal orders. Couples, let’s respond! Whether gay or straight, post a photo on FB or Twitter giving AL the “wedding finger” and tagging #LuvUAlabama.” Maddow then links the Takei story with the Selma Alabama 50th Anniversary for “Bloody Sunday.” [Commercial Break]

I did my best to capture the essence of the show in as thorough detail as possible. For me, it is difficult figure out the rating for these stories, especially when dealing with economic forecast, technology in oil tanker cars, or gay marriage. Someone like Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul might disagree contend Maddow’s reporting is based, based on Sander’s support for some variant of a Scandinavian model of socialism and Paul’s Ayn Randian libertarian leanings. The family research council would contend their stance on same sex marriage is uncontestable because it is divinely ordained, set in scripture, while a person from the LGBT community would contend it is about the United States living up to Civil Rights and ending discrimination, so how would the FCC resolve these complication issues?

What I wanted to demonstrate in this round is that regulating indecency for the putative protection of children well-being is an entire different matter from establishing a standard, a regulation delineating the categories outlined [truthfulness, bias, competent, sensual] thus far. I enjoy the debate and I thank my opponent for providing a challenge; I am eager for his FCC assessment for the stories I documented.



[1] Memo from Office of the Sheriff Kevin W. Turner Jo Daviess County

[2] Ibid.

[3] Associated Press, Industries lobby hard to shape new oil train regulations, July 13, 2014.

[4] Laura Lorenzetti, “Workers Rejoice: February hiring was huge with 295,000 jobs created,” Fortune Magazine, March 6, 2015

[5] Chico Harlan, “U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February,” The Washington Post, March 6, 2015

[6] Tribune wire reports, “Solid U.S. jobs report; unemployment rate at 5.5%” Chicago Tribune, March 6, 2015

[7] See Kyle Whitmire, “Alabama Supreme Court orders halt to same-sex marriage,” Al.com, March 3, 2015.

Debate Round No. 2
imabench

Pro

1) Bias in the media

"Most Americans if polled would acknowledge that while these programs have a particular angle, overall they provide a fair (unbiased, objective) portrayal"

Is there any evidence that suggests that could even remotely true? The most recent polling data taken literally just a few days ago suggests that for any given news channel on tv right now, less than half of Americans even SOMEWHAT trust ANY news network, and the percentage of Americans who trust the same networks 'A Great Deal' never once tops 20% for any individual channel

http://www.quinnipiac.edu...

Its false to claim that most Americans if polled believe that these programs are fair and unbiased, because the most recent polls literally indicates that only half of Americans barely trust any news network to begin with, let alone strongly trust one....


2) Distinguishing between truth and bias

"The real question is how is how would the FCC differentiate bias and truth, abstract categories into this rating system"

There are several different ways in which the biased nature of programs can be measured. One tactic is to take a single person or recurring news story and see how each program portrays the person or story. If a program is truly unbiased and neutral, then it is reasonable to suggest that the coverage of a person or an event by that program would be predominantly mixed, with positive + negative also shown in an equal amount

http://www.pewresearch.org...

^ In the polling above,
- Fox News casted Obama 48% in a mixed light, 46% in a negative light, and 6% in a positive light.
- MSNBC on the other hand casted Romney 25% in a mixed light, 71% in a negative light, and just 3% in a positive light.
- CNN portrayed Obama just about as unbiased as possible, But when evaluating Romney even there you can see that it starts to shift into a more biased appearance.

Just by evaluating how news stations portray a person or event, you can get a general idea of whether or not that station leans towards a particular side on the political spectrum in reporting stories, and based on how far they swing towards one side, you can get an immediate idea of the bias in those news networks.

Another way you could evaluate a program is to just check the politifact file (or some other fact sheet) of the shows and see if they have a good record.

http://www.politifact.com...

^ From observing the sheer frequency of lies or misinformation that is spread, you can see that Fox News has a clear problem in portraying information accurately, while MSNBC is a tad better but still in need of work, while CNN is right where it needs to be. This system of measurement can even be combined with other tactics of evaluating general bias to determine if a news station shows bias or is objective.



"I would like my opponent to demonstrate the application of the FCC label based on the detailed summaries I wrote up"

Well, the FCC label for a program wouldn't be based off of a single episode of her program, it would more likely be based off of either a comprehensive examination or a more random examination of several episodes taken throughout the year, and evaluate the bias and the accuracy of her as a host based on:

1 - Whether or not the information she presents on a regular basis is factual
2 - Whether or not she draws reasonable conclusions from the evidence she presents
3 - Whether or not she uses those same conclusions to advocate for some sort of agenda

If she presents accurate information on a regular basis from multiple episodes that are examined, makes reasonable and sound conclusions based off of that information, and does NOT use those conclusions to advocate for some sort of action to be taken, then she would by all means deserve to be given an A as a rating for her show. If she slips up on several occasions in many of these categories, then she might be more deserving of a C rating, where viewers would be advised to watch with caution. If she is a leftist propaganda machine who bases wild conclusions off of little to no hard evidence and urges people to take action over it all the time, then her program would likely be given an F, and for good reason.



3) Competency of the FCC

"how would the FCC resolve these complication issues?"

The FCC doesnt have an agenda or any incentive in advocating for gay rights, or abortion rights, privacy rights, etc. so their evaluations of programs that report on divisive issues would only focus on the use of facts, conclusions off those facts, and agenda advocation, not the FCC's personal preference about the issues being argued over.

Basically: The controversial nature of some topics discussed on news programs does not hinder the FCC's ability to objectively evaluate those news programs, since the FCC would only be looking at whether or not the facts are true, if conclusions made off those facts by the programs are legitimate, and if the pundit uses those conclusions to advocate an agenda. Not whether or not the FCC agrees with the leanings of the pundits.



"regulating indecency for the putative protection of children well-being is an entire different matter from establishing a standard regulation delineating the categories outlined [truthfulness, bias, competent, sensual] thus far"

Its not as different as you are making it out to be though, because the way that the FCC would likely evaluate tv programs would be based purely off of the accuracy of the information that is presented on the show and conclusions based off of that information, not the personal preferences and stance of the FCC on those same issues.

The fact that the FCC allows so many different tv shows to broadcast all sorts of different and varying stances on controversial issues in the first place shows that the FCC remains objective and unbiased when granting broadcasting permits to tv channels and programs that advocate different agendas then what the FCC would prefer. Therefore, if the FCC can remain objective in granting broadcasting permits in the first place, then it can reasonably be expected to remain objective when evaluating the accuracy of information in news programs.

Furthermore, the FCC has nothing to gain in showing a prejudice towards a news program. The FCC wouldnt get any bonus for changing or lowering the accuracy rating of a news program, and because the FCC is made up of republicans and democrats alike, since it is an actual rule that only 3 of the top 5 commission leaders can belong to the same party

http://www.fcc.gov...

There is reason to believe that the FCC can and will remain objective when evaluating the accuracy of tv news programs, since it has already remained objective in granting broadcasting permits to tv shows with differing agendas and views in the first place.




I extend arguments 3-6 about how there is a great need to take steps to reduce the political divide in this country, that TV programs play a huge role in this country, and that people can still choose to watch those shows that get low accuracy ratings.
dexterbeagle

Con

Good round—let’s proceed.

So far, Pro has not touched my major objection and really the major crux of the debate, namely defining the system. Without examples of “truly unbiased,” “neutral,” and “objective,” terminology I admit people find favorable but favorable in the same way people universally champion “freedom,” “democracy” and “liberty.” Anyone can quickly toss out grand concepts and run away. But they are meaningless absent of concrete scenarios and concrete definitions. It has been mentioned that the TV-MA-like rating are comparable but let me ask voters:

Quick Thought Experiment:

Me: Watch this show and report to me if there are any instances of nudity.

You: What does that mean? Can you provide a concrete example? Are there exception?

Me: Nudity means naked genitals, breasts, and anus at all times including animated characters?

You: Does this mean even a woman breast-feeding is that an example of nudity?

Me: Yes, if her nipple is exposed in any way at any time.

You: Are there any exceptions?

Me: Yes, programs aired in the evening may show a bare buttock for a short period.

You: What do you mean by short?

Me: No longer than 30 seconds.

[According to the other Pro, one can use this method to discern a rating]:

“…take a single person or recurring news story and see how each program portrays the person or story. If a program is truly unbiased and neutral, then it is reasonable to suggest that the coverage of a person or an event by that program would be predominantly mixed, with positive + negative also shown in an equal amount”

While an episode [according to Pro] is not an adequate way to ascertain a particular rating. Fine, if that is the case then, then let’s look at the coverage over the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri and the most recent revelations in the Justice Department’s report. Now MSNBC was without a doubt the most sympathetic to Michael Brown and his family, including the fact that one of their correspondence [Al Sharpton] even went to the city to lead what participates called Civil Rights marches, rallies, and other kinds of support. Fox News was much more skeptical and agreed the officer should not be prosecuted and that fundamentally the whole episode had little to do with race or racism in the police department. No one would dispute that characterization I just provided, MSNBC most sympathetic network in terms covering the issue as racism bubbling up from the service, and Fox News was the least sympathetic and was more differential to the side of law enforcement. Now, of course, there was varying degrees on the stratum but overall this dichotomy mentioned just a moment ago is representative of the shows that matter on Fox and MSNBC, meaning midafternoon and late-night time slots.

Then…

Last week, the Justice Department released their internal report and found systemic discrimination, evidenced by a cache of emails sent among prosecutors, police, and local judges. One email sent by between police officers including this:

“June 2011 described a man seeking to obtain welfare for his dogs because they are ‘“mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”’

Immediately the Mayor of Ferguson James Knowles went into straight into damage control mode, claiming the report is in “no way representative of the police department.” In the Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department report, it notes these emails were “…sent by Ferguson officials…through their official City of Ferguson email accounts…during work hours.”

The Justice Department also found:

“A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”

“A March 2010 email mocked African Americans through speech and familial stereotypes, using a story involving child support. One line from the email read: “I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment! Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!”

“An April 2011 email depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee.”

‘“A May 2011 email stated: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.’”

What is the FCC labeling rating? Or is there another hedge?

In hindsight, using the model [Pro provided] can [Pro] make provide a rating based on this coverage. Was Fox’s overall programing more objective, neutral, and unbiased? Or was MSNBC coverage more objective, neutral, and unbiased? This is what the FCC labeling system would surely have to tackle such controversial issues, so please provide an effort (it doesn’t have to be thorough) to defend the model you’re purposing, otherwise voters should take assume the proposition is actually a one bolstered by undefined concepts, albeit concepts that sounds good as principles when left undefined or never put to use like neutrality, objectivity, and unbiased.

What is the “objectivity,” “neutral,” “unbiased” position on:

Climate Change

Keystone Pipeline

Individual Mandate

Gay Marriage

NSA warrantless wiretapping

Is waterboarding torture or enhanced interrogation

Higher Taxes or Lower Taxes

Half the country has think tanks staffed with analysts of every sort, and Pro does not have an answer except five political appointees are going to have to sort this out by taking the best evidence and facts and then coming to a conclusion.

First, let me address the ancillary trope:

The FCC doesnt have an agenda or any incentive in advocating for gay rights, or abortion rights, privacy rights, etc.

FCC has nothing to gain in showing a prejudice towards a news program.

FCC employees in fact have proven completely inept and demonstrate gross unethical behavior on many occasions. Here is a headline from this year:

“Washington, DC, has long had a revolving door through which government officials exit to become lobbyists, and lobbyists enter to become government officials. Regulators being led by former executives from the industries they're supposed to regulate and industry groups being led by their former regulators sounds like it should be the stuff of fiction. But the Federal Communications Commission has once again proven that this phenomenon is quite real.”[1]

Of course, individuals have an interest to act on behalf of certain interest, and almost exclusively, members go on to work for lobbying firms for telecommunications companies and multi-national corporations.

Furthermore, let’s just take recent history, same in the aftermath of 9/11

Every news network supported the build up to the Iraq War and the government stage managed the networks, stifling dissent, so are you saying in the build up to the Iraq War the FCC would have stepped in? [How? Presumably by contradicting the Bush administration right after 9/11 and given every news network an F for inaccuracy and bias since the foundation on which we preemptively attacked Iraq was a fabrication]. Is the FCC tasked with a phalanx of investigative journalists to fact check and register every quotidian remark utter during a broadcast? If not, your proposition falls flat on its face; if so, then you are talking not only a major investment of men and man-hours, which is not only unlikely but also quixotic.

Debate Round No. 3
imabench

Pro

1) Bias in evaluating news programs

"So far, Pro has not touched my major objection and really the major crux of the debate, namely defining the system"

I have explained several times now how this issue is accounted for since the evaluation by the FCC or an independent body, as random or comprehensive as it may be, still boils down to three tests:

1 - Whether or not the information she presents on a regular basis is indeed factual
2 - Whether or not the tv pundit or host draws reasonable conclusions from the evidence she presents
3 - Whether or not the tv pundit or host uses those same conclusions to advocate for some sort of agenda

^ Evaluating the accuracy ratings of shows boils down to these three tests that can be answered with a yes/no/maybe. This eliminates potential bias towards particular stances on controversial issues, because as I will say to you once again, all that is being checked is if the facts reported on a news program are accurate, if reasonable conclusions are drawn from them, and if those facts and conclusions are used to advocate for some sort of agenda.

These are questions that can be answered easily and quickly by watching any news program, but the con is trying to distort evaluating the accuracy of a news report to make it seem like its some form of rocket science and impossible to evaluate the accuracy of a news program, when just about anybody can figure out if a news program is being biased or not once they know what to look for that indicates bias.



2) The Micheal Brown case + Justice Department examination case

"In hindsight, using the model [Pro provided] can [Pro] make provide a rating based on this coverage"

First off you're trying to tie two very different topics together and ask that it be treated like one gigantic event that has to be evaluated in its entirety, but the Micheal Brown shooting involves many different issues of many different angles, ranging from topics such as racial diversity of towns + police forces, militarization of police forces, justice department investigations, racism in general, etc. that would be evaluated individually for accuracy of a news program to be determined.

For a ranking to be determined, all that has to be done is to break down the coverage so that each aspect of the entire saga is examined on its own merits. Lets look at the coverage from the first few days after the event happened.

- MSNBC showed a clear leaning towards Michael Brown and his family, and used the event to push for an agenda that racism and militarization in the police forces is a huge problem , indicating bias.

Therefore, MSNBC's accuracy rating should be considered for a downgrade due to showing a clear bias and an agenda.

- Fox News showed a clear leaning towards police forces, and also pushed for an agenda of their own that racism is not as big of an issue as its being made out to be in America, also indicating bias and having an agenda.

Therefore, Fox News's accuracy rating should be considered for a downgrade due to showing a clear bias and an agenda.

- ABC reported that Micheal Brown had been killed by police, that his death sparked protests around the country, and that was it. ABC didn't have wall-to-wall news coverage of the event, they didn't use the event to bring up a discussion about a whole list of other events, they just reported what was going on, and then left it at that before moving on to the next story.

Therefore ABC's accuracy rating should not be weighed to be downgraded based on how they covered this story.

Was that so hard? Not at all.



3) Revolving Door in politics

"FCC employees in fact have proven completely inept and demonstrate gross unethical behavior on many occasions. Here is a headline from this year"

Just because members of the FCC have former ties to groups and corporations that the FCC holds influence over, that doesn't somehow mean they are 'completely inept and demonstrate gross unethical behavior'. If you want to claim that the FCC is inept at its job, then point to a clear instance of the FCC completely failing to do a job that falls in its realm of responsibility. Con has failed to do that, so his claim that the FCC is inept is an unsubstantiated lie.

Furthermore, its not the heads of the FCC themselves who will be evaluating the accuracy of news programs like some sort of media Czars for the government. Con is now attempting to misrepresent what it is I am advocating for. The actual analysis of the accuracy of news programs would be a task that involves dozens or even hundreds of workers analyzing coverage of events from multiple media outlets, and then applying the 3 criteria I have brought up a half dozen times now to determine if news programs are distorting stories and news, when they did so, and how much.

Only THEN, when all of that information is processed and put together, would a decision over which rating of accuracy should be assigned to news program be determined, with the mountain of evidence being the primary driver behind a decision being made, not any one persons personal beliefs.

The whole reason I brought up the heads of the FCC in the first place is to point out how the FCC itself is set up so that multiple viewpoints and political opinions are represented within the organization on all levels, a point that con didn't even care to dispute, which also discredits his claim that the FCC wouldnt be able to fairly weigh the accuracy of a news program due to potential bias.



4) Iraq War

"Given every news network an F for inaccuracy and bias"

Where did I ever say that a news program's accuracy rating would drop down to an F for coverage of a single event? The answer is I DIDNT, and if con would like to stop misrepresenting my position and try to stay on track on the debate, that would be lovely.

There was a huge spreading of misinformation leading up to the outbreak of the Iraq war that was spread by news outlets, ranging from Iraq's nuclear program, to the presence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, to Iraq's involvement in 9/11 in the first place.... Would this system have prevented the Iraq war from happening? Probably not, but it would have penalized news programs for spreading the tremendous amount of misinformation and disinformation in the first place, which would then have incentivized those programs from doing the same thing again.

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Con's entire arguments boils down to the unsubstantiated claim that neither the FCC, nor any other independent agency, can have an unbiased and objective system of assigning accuracy ratings to news programs. This tentpole of his argument though doesn't hold up because

1 - Facts speak for themselves regardless of your stance on a political issue.

No matter what your stance on Ferguson is, it is a simple fact that there is a big racial discrepancy in the race of the town of Ferguson, and the police force of Ferguson. If a news station had claimed that there was NOT a big discrepancy between the two, then they would be wrong, because the facts state otherwise, and you would arrive at that conclusion regardless of your opinion of the situation in Ferguson in the first place.

And 2 - Its easy to tell if an agenda is being advocated for.

If someone uses an event to make any kind of call to action that needs to be done, that can easily be seen. If Bill O'Reilly reported on food stamps, and then used whatever facts he found to then argue for why food stamps are bad and should be reduced or eliminated, that's a clear instance of advocating for an agenda, which can easily be detected and taken into account when later evaluating what the accuracy rating of his program should be.
dexterbeagle

Con

You should vote for the other side if you believe truth, objectivity, and unbiased means reciting facts, and nothing else. Pro offers a twenty-four hour equivalent of a CSPAN camera, completely unfiltered, non-partisan, and totally disinterested.

Or we can take this a step further and do what the Associated Press is already doing in newsrooms using computer algorithms to report stories, stories that cannot handle nuance but are adept at straight no-nonsense reporting, that under Pro’s methodology deserves an A+, a computer is the quintessential journalist by the standards adopted throughout this debate.[1]

But Pro’s standard for FCC labeling doesn’t really take into account really what journalism is nor is it even close to what experts Michael Schudson and Katharine Fink at Columbia University’s School of Journalism have documented. According to rigorous, empirical “The Rise of Contextual Journalism, 1950s–2000s” they documented, here is the abstract:

______________________________________________________________________

Many journalists and other observers remember the 1960s as a watershed moment in American journalism. Do they remember correctly? This essay reviews relevant empirical studies on how US newspapers have changed since the 1950s. There is strong existing evidence that journalists have come to present themselves as more aggressive, that news stories have grown longer, and that journalists are less willing to have politicians and other government officials frame stories and more likely to advance analysis and context on their own. Based on content analysis of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, this study finds that the growth in ‘contextual reporting’ has been enormous – from under 10 percent in all three newspapers in 1955 to about 40 percent in 2003; ‘conventional’ news stories on the front page declined from 80–90 percent in all three papers to about 50 percent in all three papers in the same period. What this study calls ‘contextual reporting’ has not been widely recognized (unlike, say, investigative reporting) as a distinctive news genre or news style and this article urges that it receive more attention.[2]

Pro states: Facts speak for themselves regardless of your stance on a political issue.

What do academics that what spent careers analyzing the issue say? The opposite!

Pro’s standard is what their report calls conventional news reporting, a type of reporting that the authors note have waned over time. Both Fink and Schudson highlight a variety of journalistic approaches that bona fide reporters take. Although, my opponent stick with the conventional approach and does not accept three others as legitimate under his regime [three in bold indicate the kinds of journalistic methods Pro does not accept as “neutral,” “objective,” or “unbiased” ]:

  • conventional: a simple report of an event which happened in the last 24 hours
  • contextual: a story containing significant analysis, interpretation, or explanation
  • investigative: extensive accountability or “watchdog” reporting
  • social empathy: a story about the lives of people unfamiliar to the reader[3]

Answering Pro’s questions and demonstrating once again the FCC is not an agency that should determine the truth; and no, Con does not believe five political appointees with zero background in journalism or Constitutional law should determine truth, nor penalize any network for using a national platform to argue about values, beliefs, principles, or that want advocate or speech on partisan issues that large segments of the population accept, reject, or indifferent too. Here is one example of why the FCC cannot be a neutral arbiter, as a government agency, when it conflicts with and capitulates to powerful agencies like the NSA.

If you want to claim that the FCC is inept at its job, then point to a clear instance of the FCC completely failing to do a job that falls in its realm of responsibility.

Here is an example: The University of Pittsburgh School of Law has a good scholarly article of the “FCC again refuses investigation of telecom involvement in NSA domestic spying. Here is what Kevin Martin, the FCC chairman had to say, “It is well within the authority of the independent agency responsible for the enforcement of our nation’s communications privacy laws to investigate the very serious reports that the intelligence agencies were using telephone companies to obtain phone records and Internet data on citizens without proper, prior authorization. I believe the FCC could conduct its own examinations of such reports in a way that safeguards national security. [4]

Obvious real world obstacles to this plan: (1) Congress would have to pass a bill authorizing the FCC with that power since it does not have that authority. (2) Immediately, a major news network would sue on free speech grounds and based on recent precedent by the Robert’s Court, they would rule it an unconstitutional based on the “Strict Scrutiny” established by stare decisis.[5][6][7][8]

Under Pro’s regime a summary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, following the Five-W’s model of facts might look like this:

[Who?] Martin Luther King, an American Baptist minister [What?] delivered a speech [Where?] on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial [When?] August 28, 1963, [Why?] to call for an end to racism

I can’t think of a more “totally unbiased,” “neutral,” and “objective” but inane way to document the “I have a Dream Speech” but essentially this is the model pro believes reveals truth, as noted in praising the ABC News model.

You should vote for Con if truth involves more than straight facts, but includes knowledge, wisdom, beliefs, principles, which all derive from what Oliver Wendell Holmes called, “a marketplace of ideas.”

Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care wholeheartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises.

But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.[9]



[5] United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. 460.

[6] Brown v. Entertainment Merchants 564 U.S. 08-1448

[7] Snyder v. Phelps, 562 U.S. 443

[8] Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 558 U.S. 310

[9] Abrams v. United States 250 U.S. 616 (1919)

Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by imabench 1 year ago
imabench
You realize that introducing new arguments in the very last round of a debate is a huge breach of conduct right?
Posted by Leo.Messi 1 year ago
Leo.Messi
cool debate ;)
Posted by That1User 1 year ago
That1User
Fox News would get an A+.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Leo.Messi 1 year ago
Leo.Messi
imabenchdexterbeagleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The argument that convinced me reads as follows::: "The FCC doesnt have an agenda or any incentive in advocating for gay rights, or abortion rights, privacy rights, etc. FCC has nothing to gain in showing a prejudice towards a news program." True. Con also gets sources for using better sources than pro: such as pro used wikpedia and "bizjournals", whih are not great sources. Con used exellent sources and cited them nicely. good debate all around though.
Vote Placed by The-Voice-of-Truth 1 year ago
The-Voice-of-Truth
imabenchdexterbeagleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con introduced new arguments in the last round... and Pro could not refute it, so I gave Conduct to pro. Sources are tied. Spelling and grammar are tied, as there were errors on both sides. Arguments: Pro was able to effectively refute Con's arguments in Round 4. Also, Con said "You should vote for the other side if you believe truth, objectivity, and unbiased means...", so I did.