This isn't so much a story from the news but about how the news is reported.

In an age when newspapers are dying and people are increasingly turning to the internets for their news, websites that ostensibly report the news are increasingly combining editorializing with real news to make a mash-up of news, opinion, and out-there theories.

It's not just Fox. The Huffington Post had great potential as a liberal site, but it has adopted a Kumbaya-humming, feel-good approach that occasionally totters on the side of the ridiculous.

Now let's face it, Arianna Huffington, a well-known liberal commentator, started off as an arch-conservative trophy wife for a Republican Congressman (who, surprisingly, later came out on the alternative side of bisexual). She actively supported Newt Gingrich's Contract on America, then had some great spiritual awakening during the most recent iteration of the Balkan Wars and followed her ex-husband's example by switching to play for the other team, politically rather than sexually. That's not the problem.

Along with the news she publishes (and comments her minions censor), she also adds some editorializing, which is frankly, antagonistic to sane science. The article in question there was in response to an editorial claiming that all cancers are caused by fungi, which are in turn caused by antibiotics--kinda one step up on the vaccines cause autism myth promoted by Jenny McCarthy and others who confuse cup size with IQ. Then again, one must wonder, as the Daily Kos did, should the news site label its columnists and editors as "doctors" .... Doctor of homeopathy? The every idea throws my biorhythms so out of sync that I need a cleansing enema--and it's not even swine flu season!

Well, in the past 24 hours, the HuffPo took things a step further, promoting former janitor and current self-help billionaire Tony Robbins and his feel good philosophy of facing crises head on and taking advantage of them (to learn more about them, please send me $5,000). Barbara Ehrenreich be damned! This is a genius who asks "How is your life better today because you lived through the crisis? How have you transformed? How are you stronger emotionally, physically, spiritually?" of a man who became a quadriplegic on his wedding day. Of course, no one points out that if you fail to transform yourself because of the crisis, it implies that the failing lies within you, not the crisis. (To be fair, I tried, but my comments were censored). It's pseudo-religious mumbo-jumbo bottled and sold as some New Age insight by a snake oil salesman whose greatest asset is is his high cheekbones.

As if to add insult to injury, the liberal media's very own Xanthippe introduced yet another new section today to her relatively new Religion section. They now boast of a new scriptural commentary series. To quote: "By calling a text or texts "scripture," we are saying that the text has a special relationship not only to us personally, and to our community, but also to the Divine or Truth." Ironically, I am usually a vocal supporter of "sacred texts" for their cultural, historical, and literary value. This, however, is only possible, when you eliminate the "Divine" and "Truth" from the equation and consider them as entirely human documents, which reflect both human achievements and failings. In them you can trace the evolution of ideas. If, however, you attach "Truth" to them, evolution stops and ideas stagnate. In that sense, they really are counter-evolutionary.

So why such a long post? Because today, when more and more people turn to sites like HuffPo for info (love the rhyme, hate the reason), we are witnessing the infiltration of dogma into the news cycle. Yes, it is a friendlier religious dogma, and Casper is a friendlier ghost. But religious dogma, like Casper, is still dead. To see it impacting the way we read news, even in more sympathetic circles, is truly disturbing. Murrow and Cronkite would never have stooped to that.

Tags: Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post, internet news, news sources

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Replies to This Discussion

HuffPo is definitely heavy on the woo. I check out their religion page on the iPhone app every now and then to see what passes for religion coverage.
In General I Like Arianna Huffington but she really isn't that Liberal. She still has a lot of conservative tendencies. She also is not the best example of an intellectual or critical thinker. Her site, interesting as it is, is very weak when it comes to things like Science. Religious, Pseudo-Science, and New Age materials have always shown up there. Some are down right hostile to non-belief and/or Science. Overall HuffPost is pretty superficial. I find it entertaining on occasion.
I generally agree with much of what you have written here, but I do have one gripe. As someone who works at an independent health/natural foods store, I have had to explain to many people that there is such a thing as a Naturopathic Doctor. As I've explained to several irate, 50+ year old males, you can get a doctorate in just about anything. Someone who has a doctorate in archaeology is still a 'doctor,' just not an M.D.

Keep in mind that homeopathic remedies are the only natural remedies that can be labeled for a specific condition in the U.S. and not have the warning labels that supplements and herbal remedies are required to have—despite ridiculous tons of evidence of their effectiveness in some cases.

A 'Doctor of Homeopathy' is merely someone who has spent the time and effort to study the theory and practice of homeopathy to have received a doctorate in that field of study. It doesn't make them a medical expert, a diagnostician, a surgeon, a general practitioner, etc. It does make them a doctor.
I certainly understand what you're saying, but I think that using the title Doctor while dispensing medical advice can be dangerous. I know several Doctors of Theology, but I wouldn't go to them to cure cancer, never mind a cold. Let's not forget, even Glenn Beck has an (honorary) doctorate.
The problem you are pointing out is not with calling these people "doctors," but with the average American's (mis-)understanding of what the word "doctor" means. This confusion is exactly what gets preyed upon by people like Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Dr. Atkins, etc.

It gets even worse with people like Dr. Atkins—who's medical degree in cardiology not only provided zilch in nutritional education, but apparently couldn't help him prevent a heart attack—who actually have a medical degree, but not in the specific field they are making public recommendations for. And yes, honorary doctorates probably cause more intellectual harm than the publicity is worth.
It might make them a Doctor, but it does not make them a MD.
Which is why I said "...is still a 'doctor,' just not an M.D."
I felt it was worth restating the obvious (and yes, previously stated) in regards to the new age shaman.
A 'Doctor of Homeopathy' is merely someone who has spent the time and effort to study the theory and practice of homeopathy to have received a doctorate in that field of study. It doesn't make them a medical expert, a diagnostician, a surgeon, a general practitioner, etc. It does make them a doctor.

It sounds like either you don't actually know what a homeopath is, or you are off with the woo fairies. Of all the quack "sciences", homeopathy is the most outright and criminally fraudulent, in the same ball park as healing amputees and reading entrails. You "study" homeopathy the same way you "study" reading auras - rigorous self-deception. Do not imply there is any substance there. Herbalists may have a claim to substance. Water-quacks do not.
HuffPo is where this immortal Deepak Chopra quote was born -

"No skeptic, to my knowledge, ever made a major scientific discovery or advanced the welfare of others."
I tried reading some posts on the HuffPo site but stopped after a couple of articles written by Deepak Chopra when my left hand developed an urge to gauge out my eyeballs with a spoon.

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