Monday, March 15, 2010

Fair and Balanced

Jamison Foser from Media Matters looks at what the liberal media is up to.

For a few weeks last fall, editors and ombudsmen at The Washington Post and New York Times seemed obsessed with the idea that they should be paying more attention to right-wing media and websites. In the wake of some wildly hyperbolic claims about ACORN, the nation’s leading news outlets apologized for being too slow to run chasing after every “scandal” ginned up by Andrew Breitbart, Glenn Beck, and their ilk.


The hand-wringing at the Post and the Times about being insufficiently attuned to conservative arguments should ring false to any fair-minded person who remembers the role those papers played in the relentless hyping of Clinton-era non-scandals, their heavily slanted coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign, or their disastrously inadequate coverage of the Bush administration’s march to war. (Alexander and the Post editors have ducked requests that they reconcile the paper’s coverage of those events with their statements that the Post needs to be more responsive to conservatives.)

But even worse than the myopic view of their treatment of conservatives over the years was the misguided premise that the media should pay attention to certain people simply because they are ideologically conservative — as if a person’s ideology, rather than the accuracy and honesty and importance of his claims, determines whether he should be taken seriously.

That’s dangerously wrong. It’s the kind of thinking that leads the media to grant equal weight to scientists who say the Earth is warming and politicians who respond by pointing out the continued existence of snow.

I realize that newspapers and TV chat shows feel that they have an obligation to present both sides of an argument, but they also have an obligation to call out obvious distortions and falsehoods, regardless of whether or not there’s a blowback from the blowhards, and it tells you a great deal when the toughest interviewer on television today is Jon Stewart.

What the papers and the networks are doing isn’t journalism; it’s stenography.