Vilification in place of answers
Another reason why the news is not such a great place to gather facts, is, that most of the arguments turn into mug slinging matches, between the various parties and their spokespersonalities.
This kind of stuff suits the sound bite nature of the news; but will often leaves the viewer ill informed. Lets face it, if we wish to watch and listen to personal drama and insults, we can watch a soap. We really want to watch the news; to be informed about important things; not to be subjected to a personality-cult showcase, for politicians.
Sticking to the facts
Here again; there always are the exceptions which prove the rule; but these are thin on the ground. I listened to a master of the debate on the radio; Tony Benn, was in discussion with three others, of varying political persuasions. Each time Benn made a point, his opponents; rather than addressing the statement, answered with a derogatory remark, about his (Benn’s) character. When again it was Benn’s time to speak, he simply reiterated and strengthened the point he had last made. Eventually as the discussion progressed; his opponents; realizing he was making verbal mince meat out of them; and that they were being left behind, stopped their character assassination tactics and tried to join the debate. By then it was to late. Benn had sewn it up, and into the bargain made his opponents look a bit silly. At no time did he reply to the personal remarks made against him, but instead, stuck to the relevant points of the discussion.
Whether you agree or not with what Tony Benn says; there is much to be learned from his style of debate. His knowledge of history and his ability to expose the charlatan, by facts, rather than personal insults; are useful devices to remember, when analising the idea behind the clever or deceiving rhetoric.