A good friend of mine is a conservative. We frequently have lively debates about politics, in which he slavishly repeats Republican talking points he heard on FoxNews or right-wing talk radio.
Recently we were discussing how the media seems to be controlling the perception of the candidates to an unhealthy degree. I suggested that it's better to seek out information on your own, through multiple sources, but especially the internet blogs and open forums which have a tendency to be self-correcting through consensus.
Yes, of course there are significant exceptions to this line of reasoning. Many blogs are ridiculously one-sided (hmmm...I can't seem to think of any right now...) and quite a few discourage or ban any contradictory viewpoints. But in a lot of cases you do have a forum to express your opinions and engage in debate about specifics, which is typically denied in a traditional MSM outlet like The O'Rielly Factor or the Glenn Beck show. Those are lectures, not discussions.
So I encouraged him to seek information on his own, even through conservative blogs. I cautioned him to avoid blogs that don't allow dissent, or heavily censor comments that don't agree 100% with their agenda. The important thing is to be able to question the information you're given in a democratic debate.
Naturally, this concept met with some resistance. It's much easier for a majority of people, from BOTH sides of the political spectrum, to get their information through the one-way flow emanating from the TV, radio, or newspapers. But conservatives especially seem to accept being lectured at more readily than progressives.
And I raised the example of how the media, especially the conservative media, had made a big thing out of Barack Obama's middle name. He tried to claim it wasn't an important issue, that a candidate's middle name was simply part of his name and is often mentioned in a newscast. He took the position that the name of a candidate should be widely known.
I asked him if he knew Obama's middle name.
He didn't hesitate. "Hussein!" he triumphantly proclaimed.
Then I asked him what John McCain's middle name was.
After several wildly inaccurate guesses, he meekly admitted he didn't have a clue.
I had to laugh.