Politically ignorant generation of sheep

Are we the generation of the politically ignorant?

politically ignorantThe word ignorant gets its root from the word ignore. Someone who is ignorant is someone who ignores. Because we ignore, we are politically ignorant.

I worry about the future of my government because I live with generations of the ignorant. We have almost no sources of news today other than the slimy slanted broadcast news stations and broadcast news centers.

Things have changed and not all change is progress.

When I was a young person, the TV networks took news seriously. The vision of Walter Annenberg attempted to present the top news stories of the day in 30-minute segments every evening.

Some even adopted 60-minute formats and news anchors tried to present the facts. Editorial content was reserved for a few small moments every few weeks when the station’s editorial staff expressly present an opinion piece.

Politically ignorant was not Walter CronkiteThere were inherent reasons why this format worked. Americans, by and large, received or purchased a daily newspaper. These papers subscribed to international bureaus like the AP or UPI and the larger papers had reporters stationed all over the globe, collecting, dissecting and evaluating the validity of the world’s happenings.

The broadcast news bureaus were not designated as profit centers. They were part of the station’s charter to serve the public interest. No one confused or polluted the broadcasts or segments as entertainment. Few were politically ignorant.

When CBS, NBC, and ABC covered the political conventions, the news anchor (like Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley) watched the event and acted as a master of ceremony diverting the live cameras to the stories taking place on the convention floor.

Everyday beat reporters, like the soon to become famous Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, asked hard hitting questions of Mayor Daley or Everett Dirkson.

What do we have today?

Drivel. Politically ignorant drivel.

Panels of talking heads replay scripted spin. The conventions themselves lack the drama of even the Academy Awards. The reason? All the outcomes and decisions are known before the convention itself. The result is ignorance.

Politically ignorantWho needs to make a considered decision when you can tune into any specific political broadcast and see and hear only from proselytizers and pundits that already agree with your pre-determined decisions?

How many Americans believe that Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly are newsmen?

This lack of discourse makes ignorance comfortable and worse still acceptable. How many of you have heard of the Pulitzer Prize-winning web site called Politifact? It is a web site dedicated to political fact checking. It looks for misinformation on both sides of the aisle.

Today, if you are unhappy with the way government is working (or not working), I say that we get the government we deserve. And we deserve the government we get.

the results of being politically ignorantI am NOT outraged over Donald Trump’s political comments concerning Russians and emails. I AM outraged that his supporters are not providing any political incentives or consequences to stop this unfiltered crap.

Political benefits at what cost? Diplomacy works only through back doors not through bullying tactics. As a nation, we pretend to abhor bulling in our schools but we seem to have no problem rewarding it in the important geopolitical arena.

So what is the end result of political thought that is unchallenged and ignored? History tells us the unbelievable and the inconceivable happens when rational objection and forethought goes out the window.

When it is suggested that we could make ourselves safer and preserve our culture… the silent majority nods in agreement. Let’s put the Jews in camps.

The fallout from Rolling Stone

Can a publication that’s been around for 47 years be permanently harmed by one article? Can a movement be doubted because of the mistakes from that article?

Those are the questions I’m asking in light of Rolling Stone’s admission that its scathing article about a gang rape on the University of Virginia campus was, shall we say, incomplete. The article itself, published Nov. 19, was so shocking that it prompted the university to shut down operations among all the fraternities on campus, local police began an investigation and the article started a national discussion on sexual abuse on campuses.

The story was that troublesome and statistics have shown that there is a sexual abuse problem on our nation’s campuses. What Rolling Stone failed to do was to attempt to talk with those on the other side of the equation (the accused), which The Washington Post did – only to find out that many of the facts were questionable at best.

Still a worthy issue to raise, despite Rolling Stone's mistake.
Still a worthy issue to raise, despite Rolling Stone’s mistake.

For Rolling Stone, I believe its brand (outside of its music reporting, it has been known for not being afraid of publishing hard-edged journalistic pieces that go all the way back to Hunter S. Thompson and up to the recent article on Gen. Stanley McChrystal) will keep it relevant even as many will be wary of its true intentions. It’s true that Rolling Stone is not what it used to be in terms of having an important place in our collective culture, but its brand is strong enough to overcome this mistake long term.

For the raised awareness of sexual abuse on campuses, I have greater worries. This is a serious issue that should be discussed despite Rolling Stone’s misstep. Reports of sexual abuse on campuses are rising up to 50% from earlier this decade with a handful of our largest universities posting shocking numbers.

Now, there is fodder for defendants that those numbers are overblown and that there is no epidemic on our campuses. Of course, who is guilty or not should be proven at court, not by public opinion. But the movement itself has taken the far greater hit from Rolling Stone backing away from the story than Rolling Stone itself.

It will take some time for it to regain traction, and I agree with the UVA student newspaper that said this issue should not be ignored no matter what was true or not true about the Rolling Stone article.

But the hardest work the movement faces has now arrived.

The lesson of Tesla: Don’t be silent

In case you missed it, there is a YouTube video of a Tesla car on fire. Immediately, the video went viral and Tesla’s stock took an immediate hit. Media outlets called it, “Tesla’s worst nightmare,” and the video showed up on many news outlets in a matter of hours.

To put some things in perspective, from 2006-2010, the National Fire Protection Association reported there is an average of 152,300 car fires per year. That’s about 17 car fires per hour.

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 9.39.42 AMNo car brand is immune to a fire. However, a Tesla in flames was captured on video and the market reacted. How did that happen?

Because Tesla went quiet. It hasn’t said a thing. When that happens, in the absence of delivering your own message, the rest of us fill in the blanks.

By staying silent, Tesla has created a brand vacuum. The whole purpose of having a brand is to give current and potential customers a scaffolding of meaning. When there is a brand vacuum, people make it up on their own because all of us look for meaning in everything. If meaning isn’t provided, we’ll just make it up.

Brand is, in part, the amalgamation of all communication vehicles an organization has at its disposal. When that communication ceases, the brand is damaged and the ability of the organization to control its brand meaning is compromised.

Brands must always control the message, even if it is damage control. The moment you ignore something or hesitate, you put the meaning of your brand in someone else’s hands.