What Color Lens Are You Looking Through?

In mathematics and engineering, it is often helpful in understanding a complex problem to understand a more simple, but analogous problem first, then translate to the more complex problem. I had an “aha” moment this morning with respect to a conversation/argument I have had one time too many with my liberal friends and family members. And, I came up with a very simple analogy that helped me understand the conundrum.

I have had hundreds, if not thousands, of debates with liberals over the years about a variety of complex topics. If we’re all honest at the end of these discussions, we would have to concede that we really don’t know the “true” answer to many of these questions. For example, the preponderance of data suggest that raising marginal income tax rates is a drag on macroeconomic growth and lowering them spurs growth. But, do we know for sure? No, there’s no way to be sure. But, there is one argument I’ve had over and over with liberals where the answer is just crystal clear. There simply is no debate. It is the question of whether the mainstream media (MSM) have a liberal bias. Of course they do. It’s not even close, but liberals have trouble seeing it.

One common retort from the lefties is that Fox News is completely biased to the right (duh) with a concession that perhaps MSNBC has a slight bias to the left, but all the others (CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, etc.) are just smack dab in the middle reporting the facts. As preposterous as that sounds, I’ve had many liberals try to make the argument. The question is why can’t they see this? Are they delusional? Are they lying? I don’t think either of those is the case. I finally came up with an analogy that helps me understand their blindness.

Suppose that sometime in your mid-teens (or whenever political views start to form) you had a purple contact lens surgically implanted in each eye. For the first few days after the surgery, the whole world would look purple to you. You would walk around telling your friends, “Hey, the world looks really purple to me.” But, over time, the world would cease to look purple. It would just look the way it looks. Your dad’s new white Chevy Impala would appear purple to you, but not in a way you would be aware of. After 20 years of looking at the world with your purple lens, you could no more articulate what “purple” looks like to you than a color blind person could tell you why red and green don’t look any different to them. They just look the way they’ve always looked. Furthermore, if someone handed you a pair of purple tinted glasses, the world would look exactly as you expected it to look.

But, suppose that at the age of 45, you go back for a follow up surgery and your purple lens is removed and replaced with a green lens. The minute you opened your eyes in the recovery room, things would look noticeably different. You’d say, “Wow, the whole world looks green.”

What’s my point? I don’t know. I’m watching playoff football and just felt like typing on my keyboard. No, I’m kidding. I really do have a point. The purple lens was your liberal lens. Since you’ve had it your whole life, you’re used to it. When you read the New York Times, it doesn’t come across liberal to you because it’s just another purple lens. It just comes across normal. When someone handed you the purple tinted glasses, they were handing you the New York Times or turning on CNN. Since you’ve always seen purple, everything looks exactly as you’d expect. But, then something happened. Fox News was born on October 7, 1996. It’s your green lens. As you look through it, suddenly things look very different and you can easily identify them as green. You can identify things as being green in a way you had lost the ability to do with things that are purple.

So, when the New York Times runs a story with the title “Romney Riches Are Being Seen as New Hurdle,” you think to yourself, “Well, that’s just important news. It’s true, right? He is wealthy and it is an issue for him?” You don’t even question the fact that perhaps it’s an issue in his presidential bid because the liberal media has made it one by writing about it non-stop. It doesn’t occur to you that a Nexis search would reveal no fewer than 150 stories so far in the NYT about Romney’s wealth, yet when John Edwards ran with John Kerry (another very rich presidential candidate whom the NYT seldom took to task for his wealth), there were a mere 8 stories during the entire campaign about his considerable wealth or his involvement with Fortress Capital, another private equity firm. No, all that is purple so you don’t see it. But, when Fox News does a story on the Solyndra scandal or Obama’s job killing veto of the Keystone XL pipeline, it looks very green to you and you notice it.

Of course, the reverse of this is not true. Conservatives, though we may look at the world through a green lens (I swear, I didn’t mean to match the conservative lens to the color of money), we have been exposed to nothing but purple news sources for most of our lives. So, we see them as such. I find that most conservatives also concede the green bias of Fox News, though not all.

So, to my liberal friends and family (and I have many and I love you all), take off the purple lens every now and then and you’ll realize that the news sources you love and want to believe are unbiased are every bit as biased to the left as Fox News is to the right. Every one of them. Don’t kid yourself into believing CNN or the NBC Nightly News is just reporting the facts. Don’t delude yourself into thinking the NYT is any less biased than Rush Limbaugh. They are reporting the facts – the purple facts. But, you’ll never see it with your purple lens.

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About Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson is an amateur writer and professional provocateur
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One Response to What Color Lens Are You Looking Through?

  1. Great analogy! I’ve had conversations with liberal friends where I’ve pointed out these biases and they’re responded with something like, “Yeah, well, wealth is more of an issue for a Republican candidate because Republicans always favor the wealthy.” Even worse have been my attempts to point out the double-standard on racism: Blatantly racist comments by leading Democrats (Harry Reid, Joe Biden, etc.) are excused and minimized while comments by conservatives are distorted into being racists, even when they’re not. Usually the come-back on that involves thinking that says, “Yeah, well, we all know that conservatives are really racist and liberals aren’t.” Sometimes a blindness can’t be helped, but at other times it’s just willful.

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