June 19 edition had an interesting web-exclusive “Mind Matters”
column by Wray Herbert called “Toothless
which was about social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot
Aronson's new book, “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me).” The
book and the column concerned the “psychological process known as
cognitive dissonance.” Sound like an unlikely candidate for bias?
Cognitive dissonance is “the extreme
emotional discomfort we feel when two important beliefs, attitudes or
perceptions collide. Humans cannot tolerate dissonance for long, so
they ease the tension by making a change in belief or attitude—and
justifying the change.”
Newsweek and Herbert, a fellow at the [Jimmy] Carter Center for
mental health journalism still managed to somehow throw in a little
liberal bias, with a vague reference that does not make clear whether
Newsweek or the study's authors named only Republicans (surprise!) as
examples of public figures with cognitive dissonance. After naming a
series of recognizable GOPers, Newsweek also got in dig at Bush and
those who still support the “misbegotten war”(emphasis mine):
What if you make a choice that is
really bad and you can't hide from it? What is the mind's strategy
for dealing with a colossal mistake? Well, as Tavris and Aronson
note, public figures from Henry Kissinger to Ronald Reagan to Scooter
Libby and Alberto Gonzales have opted for a simple phrase that
deflects all responsibility: mistakes were made.
So, there were no Democrats who Herbert
could have listed? None? At all? Not
even Bill Clinton and his refusal to get involved in the Rwandan and
Sudanese genocides and a lack of reaction to terrorism in the '90s?
Hillary Clinton still pushing the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy myth (if
only she knew about the hourly email updates directly from Karl Rove
and Sam Walton's ghost). Sandy Berger? John Kerry?
about Jimmy Carter and his history of rationalizing the actions of
groups, dictators, suspected terrorists and thugs
or blaming factual
discrepancies, plagiarism and misrepresentations of the truth
in his recent book about Israel on failing memory? Those aren't
examples of cognitive dissonance among Democrats?
last paragraph continued with a criticism of what are described as
self-deluded public figures who not only can't admit they are wrong
but believe it all the more:
just as commonly, people who don't want to own up to a mistake become
even more entrenched in their belief once it is proven wrong. They
throw good money after bad in the market, grab for straws in a dying
relationship or send yet more troops to fight a misbegotten war.
the description fit Carter, yet he was not mentioned. No mention of a
man who still backs Hamas even after the recent violence? Don't his
positions on terrorist groups, dictators, suspected terrorists and
fall into this category?
Newsweek's absence of Democrats and targeting of Republicans wouldn't
have anything to do with the author's position at the Carter Center?
article made it seem as if only Republicans are supposedly engaging
in cognitive dissonance. A medical news beat wasn't the same as
foreign policy, but it was still journalism. When journalistic bias
was so blatant in an article that was not really about politics or
even Republicans, it calls into question the impartiality of the rest
of the magazine.
Lynn with tips or complaints at: tvisgoodforyou2 AT yahoo DOT com