Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Dead Cat Paradigm

Thinking about the media coverage of the cop dying at the protest the other day, I couldn’t help but remember one of the episodes of HBO’s fabulous miniseries From the Earth to the Moon. It was an episode where a Geology Professor was trying to teach astronauts how to find the kinds of rocks that they needed from the Moon. He said that every rock has a story, and thus comes the paradigm of the dead cat. If you see a dead cat on the side of the road, then all you know is that there is a dead cat on the side of the road. In order to find out what really happened, what you need is context. Were there skid marks in front of the cat? Did it have any broken bones or serious wounds? Hopefully, from these facts, you can find out what happened to the dead cat, or in his case, what the story of the rock is.

When I heard the story on the news about the cop dying at the protest, they did the normal thing. They repeated over and over again that a cop died in a scuffle at the protest. I, for the longest time, until I heard the whole story, thought that the cop was beaten to death. It makes it no less of a tragedy that he died of a heart attack, but it does give us a little more context. It tells us that we need to investigate the matter further before jumping to conclusions. I mean if the news reported that there was a dead cat on the side of a very busy and dangerous road, then I would assume that it was run over.

Whenever my conservative friends (yup, I have a few of them too) tell me that the media has a “Liberal Bias”, I want to rip my hair out. The reason that I get so mad is that I may not agree with their politics, but they are smart good people who have common sense. When smart people start buying into this “Liberal Bias” meme, then we are all in trouble.

The question that I have is, how do we take our media back? When I say we, I mean all of us, as Americans. We all deserve the truth, and we all deserve the whole story, whether it be of the dead cop or the dead cat.


At 12:58 PM, Blogger Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

Blogs such as this one are a good means of broadening the public
understanding of context and truth.

And it never hurts to call a reporter or editor directly and tell him or her what you think of past coverage, or what you think should be covered in the future.

The there are the letters to the editor and call ins to talk radio, both of which have been raised into an art form by the Rapid Response Network and others similarly interested in accurately conveying reality in an age of spin.


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