Today the Washington Post (10/1/13) has a piece about how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not pleased with the thaw in US/Iran relations. That's not surprising. But I was a little surprised that reporters David Nakamura and William Booth allowed this: Israeli leaders fear that the international community, and the United States in particular, is in danger of being duped by the Iranians. One official compared the Americans to tourists wandering into a Middle East bazaar. "The Persians have been using these tactics for thousands of years, before America came to be," said a senior Israeli official, who spoke […]
Search Results for: "false balance"
Nate Silver's failure to fit in with the culture of the New York Times illustrates the difference between objectivity and "objectivity"–the latter being the belief that it's impossible to know what's real, so all you can do is report the claims made by various (powerful) people.
An Israeli airstrike on Gaza yesterday is being reported as a breach of the cease-fire agreement that was reached after violence last November between the Israeli military and Hamas forces. But the new accounts are misleading: They give the impression that Israel hasn't regularly violated the agreement already.
Why do we need "serious spending cuts"? Milbank assumes the answer is so obvious that it need not be explained–everyone knows the more cuts, the better. All the serious people, anyway.
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 […]
The results are in: Nate Silver won the election. The New York Times' polling/stats wonk was projecting an Obama victory, and it looks like he basically nailed it. Of course, this outcome thrills Silver's many fans, and has shown pretty clearly that the people the corporate media rely on to make election predictions aren't really good at the thing they're supposed to be good at doing. This is revealing, and should raise the usual questions about why some of these people continue to appear on television as election experts. But since it's very hard to lose your Pundit License, it's […]
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 […]
Time's Michael Scherer (10/9/12) responded to a FAIR Blog post by FAIR's Peter Hart (10/3/12), who apparently spoke for many: Peter Hart, writing for the liberal Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, summed up many of the tweets I received. "The article kicks off with a hefty helping of false balance–the tendency to see all problems as coming more or less equally from both sides," he wrote. "One of the most common problems with media factchecking is the need to always be balanced–no matter what is happening in reality." Scherer responds: I don’t disagree with Hart's underlying point…. I would love […]
In Time magazine's new cover story ("Blue Truth, Red Truth," 10/3/12), Michael Scherer attempts to sort out the puzzle of campaign season factchecking. But while the cover promises to tell us which candidate is telling the truth, it mostly manages to capture some of the corporate media's worst factchecking tropes. The article kicks off with a hefty helping of false balance–the tendency to see all problems as coming more or less equally from both sides. Obama complains about Romney's sustained, false claims that the White House is doing away with work requirements under welfare. Scherer notes this is false–and then […]
The new public editor at the New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, dedicated her first column (9/16/12) to factchecking and false balance. Her conclusion: It ought to go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway: Journalists need to make every effort to get beyond the spin and help readers know what to believe, to help them make their way through complicated and contentious subjects. The more news organizations can state established truths and stand by them, the better off the readership–and the democracy–will be. It's good news that Sullivan thinks this way–and an improvement over her predecessor's much-maligned column […]
Ryan Cooper of Political Animal (9/8/12) called attention to a column by Washington Post's Ezra Klein (8/30/12) that I think really sums up the corporate media's problem with false balance. After arguing at length that "quite simply, the Romney campaign isn't adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation," Klein wraps up: I don't like that conclusion. It doesn't look "fair" when you say that. We've been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and […]
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.