Froomkin’s new article about false equivalences in the press is outstanding. The centerpiece:
“If voters are going to be able to hold accountable political figures, they’ve got to know what’s going on,” Ornstein said. “And if the story that you’re telling repeatedly is that they’re all to blame — they’re all equally to blame — then you’re really doing a disservice to voters, and not doing what journalism is supposed to do.”
Ornstein said the media’s failure led him to conclude: “If you want to use a strategy of ‘I’m just going to lie all the time’, when you have the false equivalence meme adopted by a mainstream press and the other side lies a quarter of the time, you get away with it.”
Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann also noted the awkward rise of the fact-checkers and how it caused more problems than it solved. In fact, I tweeted about this very thing during the debates: why aren’t the so-called reporters and journalists fact-checking the campaign within their reporting, rather than segregating off as its own feature?
Furthermore, Mann observed:
“We had these little flurries of fact-checking — which I found not worthless, but not a substitute for coherent, serious reporting — and most of the time it just got stuck in the back of a news organization’s output and there was no cost to a candidate of ignoring it,” Mann said.
And then there was this terrible irony: “Fact checkers almost seemed obliged to show some balance in their fact checking.”
Politifact and FactCheck were both guilty of this. On several occasions their fact-checks of the debates, for example, contained a similar number of falsehoods for each candidate, even though Romney’s were considerably more egregious, and while the president had some falsehoods, his tally was fluffed up with minor numerical gaffes and honest mistakes.
The press corp simply needs to grow some balls, ignore the right-wing screechers, and report the facts, irrespective of whether it sounds lopsided. If the facts are lopsided in one direction, then so be it. By the way, the same goes for MSNBC and the reporting sounds lopsided towards the president, so be it — again. As I’ve repeated too many times already: if reality has a liberal or pro-Obama slant, then that’s not a bias, it’s reality.