Monday, July 25, 2005
False Symmetry, False Equivalency...
...or just plain cowardice? Whatever you call it, it's been the hallmark of American journalism for nigh on the past three decades now. Matt Yglesias dissects a particularly vile example:
NAME NAMES! There was a weirdly infuriating editorial in yesterday's Washington Post on the subject of the estate tax. Everything they said -- namely that the case against it is based almost entirely on lies -- was perfectly correct, but the authors seemed to have trouble forming words like "Republicans," "Democrats," "conservatives," and "liberals" that would have let readers know who was behind the lies, who was peddling them, who was trying to debunk them, and who should be held accountable for bad policymaking. Instead we got "members of Congress debating the issue now ought to look at the facts assembled by the CBO -- not the misinformation peddled by those maneuvering to make repeal permanent" as if the issue on the Hill was genuinely confusion and ignorance rather than deception, and as if there was just some kind of bipartisan fog rather than a clear ideological division. Now as it happens, the Post's readership has an unusually high degree of political awareness, but I see this sort of thing in editorials and news stories in all sorts of media outlets. Deeds and misdeeds will be vaguely attributed to "Congress" rather than to the congressional Republicans who are actually doing them. For professional political reporters, of course, it goes without saying that "Congress" means "the congressional leadership" means "the Republican Party," but this is actually non-obvious to most people. Polls show that most voters don't know which party controls Congress and it's clear that the overwhelming majority of people don't understand the mechanisms of leadership control that allow rather narrow majorities to utterly control the agenda. Unless reporters name names rather explicitly, viewers and readers walk away from these kinds of stories with just a vague distaste for the powers that be rather than real comprehension of what's happening. --Matthew Yglesias Posted at 10:21 AM
As for newspapers nowadays, think of them as a photographic negative. By reversing the image, one can get a sense of what really is.
And I want to congratulate Danica on waging a clever and successful marketing campaign to generate traffic for her blog. I hope that she actually does have an interest in the issues that are discussed on Mercury Rising and will join the community. It's not quite as exciting as wrangling eyeballs, but it has its compensations.
I can get a pass if I tell them that FauxNews lies and I then puncture their Repub/Bushie soundbite with a contrasting one that I got from, say, you guys, but they actually believe most of the fog they get from other MSM. And I'm talking about doctors. Smart people, whose livelihoods are under assault from the Bushistas.
If the MSM did their job and truly went after the heart of matters, it would both alter the political spectrum and sell a lot more papers and television commercial time.
Please do me this favor: the next time I begin something by saying "If the media, bla-bla-blah..." just take me out back and shoot a fiver into my head, like those British plainclothes cops did. It'll put me out of my growing misery regarding the MSM. They'll just make my head explode anyways.
So next time you say, "If only the media ..." shoot a fiver to one of those outlets. An hour of Amy, or Dennis or Brad or Randi can put most thinking people out of their misery.
I feel I have been rewarded over and over for my small contributions. That's one reason why my head is still somewhat intact.
It's easy to get frustrated after 37 years of Republican domination interrupted only by 6 years of effective Democratic control with its attendant effects on media performance.
But the fact is that we are winning. When Republicans have control, they cannot do anything more than impoverish this nation and cast it in disgrace. Democrats have never been angels, but they have long been the only source of real national leadership.
At some point, the American empire will fall low enough that even the elite will see that the present course endangers them, too.
More blogs about politics.