A False Equivalency
News reports and headlines coming out of the Republican National Convention last week were pretty disturbing. As much as Fox News and the Republicans complain about the evil “liberal” media being biased, many of the reports I heard bent over backwards to be “balanced.”
Case in point: I was driving home from class the day after Paul Ryan’s pants-on-fire speech, and the radio station I listen to broke for news. The reporter gave an overview of Ryan’s speech and noted that “some on the left are challenging the truth of some of Ryan’s claims.”
Other headlines in newspapers and websites read similar to “Dems Question Ryan’s Facts.”
The media set up a dichotomy in which each position could be construed as valid. By noting that it was “the left” or “democrats” that questioned the facts in Ryan’s speech, news outlets fueled a partisan controversy.
Those reporters could have said, “Ryan was wrong. Here’s why.” Pointing out something that is factually wrong is not being unbalanced. That’s the job of the news media.
I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that it doesn’t matter who gets elected — we all want the same thing, we just have different approaches to get it. That’s not the reality.
There is a false equivalency that people are people. One side can be more right than the other. Republicans don’t believe in climate change. They’re wrong. Factually. Scientifically. Ethically. There is hard data and a consensus in the scientific community that says climate change is real. Yet newspaper headlines keep the “debate” over its validity in question by lending credence to the right’s rejection of facts.
The news media is so terrified of being considered biased toward President Obama or the Democrats that they have stopped doing their jobs. They give equal time to unequal ideas. But they don’t seem to understand that.
There is a difference between the fundamental ideologies of the left and right. But they are not equal. Not even a little bit. And when the news media embraces this false equivalency, it does a huge disservice to the American electorate.
I should mention that while some news outlets strive to show the equivalency of the different positions, others are actually tackling the issues head on. It’s just a shame that most of the tackling happens in the prime time ‘opinion’ and ‘commentary’ segments, not during the actual news shows. And trust me, GOP, when CNN starts calling you out on your BS, you’re very wrong.