The controversy over Heritage's dubious immigration report led Bill Keller of the New York Times to write a column about the big lessons of this scandal. And the first lesson? Think tanks on "both sides" are up to no good.
Some campaign disputes can be tricky to sort out. Others are not. That's why media coverage that takes the both-sides-have-a-point approach can be so disappointing, if not dangerous. Take Mitt Romney's recent claim that the White House was "gutting" the work requirements in the 1996 welfare "reform" law. As a Romney TV ad put it: "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check." That charge earned a "Pants on Fire" from PolitiFact (8/7/12), which pointed out that the policy change that is supposedly at issue [...]
There are two ways to approach being evenhanded: You can try to actually be evenhanded, which could mean that you find that one side is right and the other is wrong. Or you can strive for the appearance of being evenhanded, which means that you decide in advance that you're going to find that there's truth on both sides. PolitiFact, a political factchecking project based in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been criticized for taking the latter approach. An item it posted yesterday (1/9/12) is further evidence of its preference for the appearance of evenhandedness over its reality. The item addressed [...]
Radio hosts author/social activists Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are on anti-poverty tour, trying to draw attention to issues that are neglected in most political discussions–and all but absent in corporate media. The good news, in theory, is that they're getting some national TV attention. But this is one of those cases where you start off wishing there was more media coverage–until you see what kind of coverage you get. Then you're wishing for something else. Appearing on CNN's American Morning (8/8/11), host Carol Costello got off on the wrong foot, quoting from a letter from a CNN viewer: This [...]