I have been working lots of hours, lately, on some on-going high impact litigation. That leaves me little time for writing, much less for reading or watching television. So I tend to get my information through filters. Like many people, I figure that saves time, and I still get the information I need. But it also means I get a lot of inaccurate information in the process. Because with filters, comes bias.
The Media Isn’t Paid to Tell the Truth
Media pundits are not paid to tell the truth, but are paid to increase ratings — and sell advertising. Take for example, President Obama’s latest “Jobs” speech. I was working late Thursday and didn’t have time to listen or watch. But I did hear radio pundits talk about Congress’ reaction to The President as he was speaking. While nothing as disrespectful as the infamous “You Lie!” was reported, radio personalities described a cheering Democratic base, with stoic Republicans ignoring The President and playing with their Blackberries.
One pundit who tends to express himself with serious Moral Outrage even goes so far to say not one Republican applauded or stood for anything, even when The President spoke about our Veterans. But today I watched the speech in its entirety. And while Democrats did look a lot like Methodists on Sunday – standing up and sitting down so often they probably burned three days’ calories in the process, Republicans also stood and applauded at a number of comments including this one:
Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?
And this one:
But know this: The next election is 14 months away. And the people who sent us here — the people who hired us to work for them — they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months.
Had I been lazy, just listening to the views of others with a biased agenda, I might never have known the truth — or worse, would have passed along false information as “The Gospel.”
That brings me to wine reviews and rating systems.
Wine Ratings are Subjective
How many of us have by-passed a wine because Robert M. Parker, Jr. or one of his minions deems it an 89 or below? While Parker may not be responsible for Kenny G, his followers are sometimes a bit more like iFans than Android Users. How many wine makers change the style of their wines to big, bold and fruit forward, because a 90 means big sales, and an 89 might doom them to only Flash-site sales? How many wine writers have tasted a wine she or he think is good, only to withhold the review upon finding the Big Boys gave the wine an 87 or 88? God forbid should anyone risk his reputation by speaking his own mind — or palate, giving his own opinion and introducing his readers to a perfectly good wine.
Don’t Be a Wine Spectator
Sometimes I am amazed at what others deem a fabulous or inferior wine. There is one particular wine writer tasked by the State with promoting Texas wine. He is fabulous at doing so, but not always 100% honest in the process. While some wines he anoints are perfectly acceptable, in his zealotry he often criticizes California, Washington or Oregon wines made with the same grape declaring them inferior to their Texas cousins. When they’re not in any way shape or form inferior. Much like the radio pundit who chooses to Preach to the Choir — the writer knocks down the other side rather than simply praising his own.
Nearly every wine writer — unless she has a policy against it — gets lots and lots of free wine to sample. So reviews are based on comparisons. Wine reviews and ratings
are bullshit can be useful, but you cheat yourself if all you taste are wines that someone else recommends. You cheat yourself further if you ignore a wine that someone else says is inferior. Just because Parker, Heimoff or Suckling does not rave about it does not mean you won’t like it.
We don’t write negative reviews. But just because we do not write about something does not always mean it is not good or enjoyable. It might mean that, based on all the wines we tasted that week, it did not stand out. Or perhaps it did, but not enough to justify the high price point. In our opinion. Or perhaps we just didn’t have time to write about it — and when we find the time, something else captured our attention.
The best way to tell if you will like a wine, is to sample it yourself. Take advantage of store samplings, tasting rooms opportunities and restaurant wine lists. If you do not like the wine consider any money paid as cost for the experience.
Now there are some things we might never experience — playing in a Superbowl, getting sacked by Ndamukong Suh, drinking a bottle of 1787 Château Margaux or listening to The President speak while sitting in a joint session of Congress. For those things we can learn or enjoy by being a spectator.
But there are plenty of opportunities for us to experience life first hand. To find our own truths we must avoid the filters, tune-out the media, and drink in the wine of life ourselves.