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 of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”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
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.
Saying what they “could not say.” Because then they’d be just like the unemployed bloggers in their mothers’ basements, writing filthy hippie shit on the internet, and probably not going to hell. Which, look, bitches gotta eat. I get that. But you reach a point, or you should, when you can’t shut up anymore.
Most of us out here in the reality-based community hit that point about 2003. And either found jobs where we could talk honestly about what mattered, or left the field. There’s nothing unusual about continuing to do something you know is fraudulent, but it’s gross to admit to it and then expect sympathy for your plight.
In recent weeks, many reporters have awoken to the unique dangers that a Trump presidency would pose to America’s democratic institutions and well-being. And yet despite all the evidence of how badly served America has been by the phony “both sides” meme, it continues unabated—to the point where reporters engage in the practice even while bemoaning its effects. On May 10, for example, the Times’s Trip Gabriel wrote an article in which he accused “each side” of “exploiting voters’ strong dislike of the other candidate,” and explicitly equated Trump’s personal attacks on Clinton (as well as those on her husband, whom he has accused of rape) with Clinton’s stated concerns about Trump’s policy proposals. Apparently unaware of the irony, Gabriel worried that “the skirmishing threatens to mask the profound differences the candidates have on issues,” as if he had not done exactly this just one paragraph earlier.
See, this to me is becoming a bigger problem than “both sides do it.” “Skirmishing” — people saying shit “threatens to mask” — all by itself — “the profound differences” — between one very experienced candidate with positions on issues and one former businessman who thinks the president is a foreign secret agent. The skirmishing threatens to mask. Not the reporting, or the commentary, or the analysis of the various differences between the candidates. Nobody writing about this has any responsibility for how it’s perceived!
Maybe instead of “both sides do it” the answer is “no one does it.”