James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Ignorance and the electorate

Posted by James McPherson on July 7, 2008

My conservative buddy and I share one thing in common–both of us are consistently surprised by the ignorance of many people on both sides of many political arguments, and even more surprised at how willing many of those folks are to prove how little they know. One example, a variation of which shows up repeatedly on conservative blogs, is this one, which I came across today on a Fox New blog (I changed nothing, including spelling):

“Why isn’t anything being mentioned about Obama raised as a musilum achooled with terriorists and the FACT that during a democrate ralley he ‘REFUSED’ to salute the flag or say our anthem??????????? Please advise me. And the people want him as a President!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Versions of that comment continue to circulate via email. Aside from the fact that you “say” the Pledge of Allegiance and “sing” or perform the Anthem, if people keep spewing the same ignorance (admittedly, Fox News anchors did the same before being forced to “clarify” the false report)–despite the fact that credible sources on both sides (including even the less-credible Bill O’Reilly)–have repeatedly disputed these lies, what hope do we have that they’ll understand the intricacies of policy debate? It’s no wonder there are so many folks who consider anyone with an education (even a high school education, judging from the comment above) to be elites.

Four recommendations I’d humbly offer for would-be political pundits:

  1. Read at least ten times as much as you publicly write (even if you have to move your lips and trace along with your finger while you read, it will pay off in the long run).
  2. Get your information from a variety of sources, conservative and liberal.
  3. Not every thought need be quickly shared (to paraphrase a quote attributed to many: “Better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”).
  4. Exclamation marks do not enhance an argument, even if you add an extra dozen.

Obama leads the Pledge of Allegiance

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7 Responses to “Ignorance and the electorate”

  1. I’m holding out hope for the glorious debut of “Mike Ingram’s Media & Politics Blog.”

  2. James McPherson said

    I’d like to see that, too. I once had thoughts of asking Mike to co-host a radio program with me. Maybe someday.

  3. […] of them, like Obama, even pledge allegiance to the American […]

  4. […] to–are argue with–each other. The same three to six people, some of whom choose to stay happily misinformed about most issues, will be the ones most likely to comment on the next day’s post at the […]

  5. […] Ignorance and the electorate […]

  6. […] Ignorance and the electorate […]

  7. […] by James McPherson on August 9, 2009 It has long been fashionable among many to take pride in ignorance–indeed, we elected and re-elected a president who disdained science in favor of emotion and […]

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