Calling Things What They Are

This, for example, is called cowardice, or laziness, or both: 

Among the most eloquent chroniclers of this transformation of our political discourse have been the establishment political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. Each has been studying politics and offering pungent quotes to journalists for over 40 years, most often apportioning praise and blame to each party in relatively equal measure. But by April 2012, they had grown so frustrated with Republican recalcitrance that they jointly wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post titled “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.” In it, they described a party that had become “an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful ofcompromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

The argument proved to be among the most widely read, commented-on, and retweeted of anything published in the paper since the dawn of the Internet. Many journalists congratulated its authors in private for saying what they could not say. Yet nothing changed. Editors and producers, Mann explained to The Huffington Post, were “concerned about their professional standing and vulnerability to charges of partisan bias.” So, like the man in the joke who gives up doctors after one tells him to give up drinking and whoring, reporters simply stopped speaking to Mann and Ornstein—at least without hearing from “both sides.”

Their professional standing and worrying about it is not their job. I’m so fucking old I can remember when getting yelled at by a politician was a badge of honor in a newsroom, and you’d put that asshole’s angry voicemail on speaker for everyone to hear. Ooh, some group’s representative might be mad at me … I’m sorry, that’s an actual worry now? Notch it up on your damn bedpost and get back to work.

A Media Matters study noted that baseless complaints about voter fraud were given the “he said/she said” treatment in the Times in 60 percent of the relevant stories published in 2013 and 2015—a 10 percent increase over the previous two years. Responding to a question from the Times’s then–public editor, Margaret Sullivan, about the paper’s repeated failure to report the truth about this issue, Times national editor Sam Sifton insisted: “It’s not our job to litigate it in the paper…. We need to state what each side says.” He made this point regarding a story by Ethan Bronner, who admitted to Sullivan that he was aware of “no known evidence of in-person voter fraud.”

So there’s a verifiable fact that you have not communicated as clearly as you can about an important issue of the day. YOU HAVE NOT DONE YOUR JOB. What is wrong with you? Like what are you doing here? I’m not saying you gotta pick up the hose and put out the fire instead of describing it but if you’re covered in ash and there are flames everywhere maybe don’t put the guy on the air who says he thinks fire is a myth.

Litigate it in the paper. Fucking hell.

A.

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