The politics of personal destruction


Mike Erlandson hit the nail on the head Friday night on Almanac. He said “I think there is too much politics of personal destruction”.

In the past few weeks we found out that DFL-endorsed Congressional candidate Keith Ellison had the bad judgment to marry a woman who would come down with MS and then the gall to trust his loving wife to run his campaign and personal finances . (For those of you who like to misquote…note the above is meant to be sarcastic)

Remember the tale of the blindfolded men who were asked to describe what they were touching? All came up with very different descriptions because they only were touching a small part of the elephant. From their small amount of information they seemed to be absolutely correct in their analysis. But they were dead wrong on the big picture.

That is what the politics of personal destruction is about. It focuses on small things. It puts the blindfolds on people so they don’t see the big picture. Some people by choice decide to be myopic and only focus on one issue. Others have the blindfolds thrust upon them by irresponsible reporting that selectively reports “facts”. Traditionally we blame the big media for this as it trys to sensationalize a story to garner more attention.

We’d like to think the “new media” is above that. Unfortunately that is not so. Bloggers- notably Michael Brodkorb- like to practice the politics of personal destruction saying they are just revealing “facts”. But as we’ve seen, “facts” without context can be very misleading.

Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said “With great power comes great responsibility”. New media is finding its power. That power can be used for good or evil. What we’ve seen over the past few weeks from Mr. Brodkorb and the newspapers that have repeated his stories is not responsible journalism any stretch of the imagination.

If the media (big and new) are the watchdogs–whose job is it to watch them? The answer is you. Pick up your pen, fire up your computer and complain. Loudly. Demand they invest the time and resources to report the big picture. Mr. Brodkorb’s excuse is he has an agenda and is deliberately trying to slant the news with selective reporting. Our major newspapers don’t have a similar excuse.