Search Results for: "false balance"

Feb
21
2014

FAIR TV: Climate Change False Balance, MSNBC Cheers Its Boss, Apology-Free O'Reilly

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David Gregory seemed to say that the science on climate change was settled. So why did he have a debate about whether climate change is happening? Plus MSNBC's Morning Joe cheers on its corporate parent, while Bill O'Reilly gives us one more example of why Fox News is so special.

Nov
20
2012

False Balance and Civilian Suffering in Gaza Crisis

Washington Post photo of Gaza destruction

People who follow media criticism are likely aware of the term "false balance," used to describe coverage that presents "both sides" of an issue as if they are equivalent–when they are anything but. Does that label apply to coverage of the current Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip? A November 15 Washington Post headline read, "Civilians in Gaza, Israel Suffer Amid Conflict." The piece would appear to want to give readers the sense that comparable suffering is occurring on both sides. But reality tells a different story–one that is not so symmetrical. The piece begins in a Gaza hospital, where […]

Nov
05
2012

I Predict Dana Milbank Will Continue to Personify False Balance

After establishing that Republican operative Karl Rove is a terrible political prognosticator, Dana Milbank (Washington Post, 11/2/12) does the false-balance thing and attacks polling blogger Nate Silver: Rove is an easy target because his motive–conveying a false sense of momentum for Republicans–is so transparent. But he has plenty of company among prognosticators who confidently predict that which they cannot possibly know. There's Nate Silver, a statistician-blogger at the New York Times, who predicts with scientific precision that President Obama will win 303 electoral votes and beat Romney by 2 percentage points in the popular vote. He gives Obama an 81 […]

Aug
17
2012

FAIR TV: False Balance, NPR Ethics and the Press Crush on Paul Ryan

In this new episode of FAIR TV: The media's Paul Ryan crush, fact checking failure at PBS and a look at the curious ethics at NPR.

Jan
03
2012

WaPo and Keystone False Balance

Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel has a column in the Washington Post today (1/3/12) outlining the three important election issues to watch–and one of them is about how the press covers the process: Third, the media's obsession with false equivalence: How the election is covered will almost certainly have a measurable impact on its outcome. The New York Times' Paul Krugman describes what he's witnessing as "post-truth politics," in which right-leaning candidates can feel free to say whatever they want without being held accountable by the press. There may be instances in which a candidate is called out for saying […]

Dec
13
2011

For False Balance, WaPo Cites Phony Report on Vote Fraud

In today's Washington Post (12/13/11), Jerry Markon reports on the news that the White House "will wade into the increasingly divisive national debate over new voting laws." But the article's explanation of the concept of "voter fraud"–the ostensible rationale for these Republican efforts to restrict voting–leaves a lot to be desired. Markon writes that liberal and civil rights groups have been raising alarms about the remaining laws, calling them an "assault on democracy" and an attempt to depress minority voter turnout. Supporters of the tighter laws say they are needed to combat voter fraud. That's the usual (and frustrating) on-the-one-hand, […]

Aug
19
2011

ProPublica's False Balance on Economic Myths

ProPublica's factcheck of seven economic myths facing the country makes some good points: Taxes aren't going up, for instance. Some of the "myths" are a bit muddled: "The stimulus has been full of/free of fraud, waste and abuse." Is someone really saying the latter? But overall the piece tries vainly to balance myths that will please both the right and the left. For instance, Myth #3 doesn't appear to be a myth at all, but a difference of opinion between economists. But labeling it a myth serves the conservative perspective: The stimulus should have been bigger. This is a red […]

Jan
11
2011

False Balance, Joe Klein-Style

Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources (1/10/11), Time's Joe Klein denouncedthe "crap" on the Fox News Channel. And as many pundits are prone to do, he found the need to balance that by citing a comparable example from the "other" side: Well, that brings me to point number two…. Cable news chooses not to really deal with complicated issues with the level of complexity that they deserve. I was on Ed Schultz's show to discuss Afghanistan. I was just back from there. It is the most complicated issue imaginable. And the guy writes on a piece of paper, "Get out now," […]

Jan
10
2011

Violent Rhetoric and False Balance

Today in the New York Times Paul Krugman (1/10/11) suggests that we not pretend that "both sides" are responsible for toxic political rhetoric: Where's that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let's not make a false pretense of balance: It's coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It's hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be "armed and dangerous" without being ostracized; but Rep. Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the GOP. …Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you'll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won't […]

May
22
2009

False Balance Alive & Well in Environmental Coverage

Jonathan Hiskes of Grist–who recently exposed "The NYT's Favorite 'Climate Change Denier'"–has now (5/13/09) caught Fox News giving airtime to Marc Morano's charge of Al Gore "profiting off global warming campaign" : Say you're a harried cable news producer with 24 gaping hours to fill with finished material every day of the week. Say you're constantly in need of articulate guests to offer a diversity of viewpoints. How do you do it? One way is to take up offers like this one from the PR folks representing Marc Morano. Refresher: Morano was formerly an aid to climate-change-denier-in-chief James Inhofe (GOP […]

Apr
15
2009

Tea Parties and False Balance

With Fox News Channel relentlessly promoting–and MSNBC mostly mocking– the right-wing "tea party" demonstrations around the country today, middle-of-the-road media critics are making a typically middle-of-the-road complaint: Yes, Fox shouldn't be sponsoring such events, but the rest of the corporate media shouldn't just ignore these allegedly newsworthy events. As Howard Kurtz put it in the Washington Post today: Some Fox News hosts have been pushing the tea party protests slated for hundreds of cities today, almost to the point that they seem to be the ringmasters of the event. "It's now my great duty to promote the tea parties. Here […]

Nov
02
2008

False Balance, TV Critic Style

New York Times TV reporter Jim Rutenberg (11/2/08) tries to make a case that Fox News and MSNBC are (in Tom Rosenstiel's words) "reverse images of each other." Here are the actual quotes used by Rutenberg to demonstrate this supposed parallelism–first, Ann Coulter on Fox (10/30/08): I feel like we are talking to the Germans after Hitler comes to power, saying, "Oh, well, I didn't know." And then Chris Matthews on MSNBC (10/29/08), addressing those who wouldn't vote for Obama because he's black: He's been a good father, a good citizen, he's paid attention to his country…. Give the guy […]

Oct
15
2008

False Balance, Minus the Balance

USA Today weighs in on the ACORN "vote fraud" controversy with a story headlined "Campaigns Take Aim as New Vote Fraud Allegations Emerge." The story's lead suggests a typically bad rendition of the media's usual "false balance" routine, reporting that the McCain and Obama campaigns are "trading accusations of voter fraud and voter suppression and gearing up for possible court battles over the outcome." Treating well-documented efforts to suppress voters–particularly minority voters–as somehow comparable to the scattered incidents of registration fraud would be bad enough. But the article never really explains the voter suppressionthat ishappening right now in this election […]