Because Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

Sometimes people say stupid things and that includes politicians (perhaps especially politicians). So when Republican Todd Akin for example says, “It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down” it would be inappropriate for a news agency to, say, post a video with the headline: Is the GOP Anti-Science? in an attempt to bash the “other side.” I think that there is a tendency among some Republicans to marginalize rape victims in a misguided attempt to fight the legitimate evil of abortion. I expect the media to report the complexity of that reality in a comprehensive and non-partisan manner. What I do not expect is this bigoted response:

Hardball with Chris Matthews: Is the GOP Anti-Science?

Journalists, whose grave responsibility it is to report with impartiality, should be some of the last people to be obstinately convinced of their own superiority; yet, in the mainstream media they are often the most prejudiced.

Now, I’m not defending Republicans here, and I’m certainly not attacking people’s rights to freedom of speech – I’m just asking for good journalism. The thing is, once you put rhetoric aside Republicans and Democrats (and their respective partisan news outlets) are very similar when it comes to their underlying principles driving policy. Their squabbles remind me more of factions within a small fundamentalist church fighting over ideological purity than forces at opposite ends of a political spectrum. As Carroll Quigley put it, “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy.”

Its exactly the kind of bogus reporting like that above, painting the left and right parties as diametrically opposed forces with one as savior and the other as brainless idiots who will doom us all, when in fact they’re nearly identical, that keeps party loyalties afloat and ensures that no positive, profound change in policy will ever take place. I happen to believe, however, that some things are more important than blind party cohesion: things like truth, justice and taking a stand on principle and not political expedience.

But, yeah, lets oversimplify American politics, boil the beliefs of 311 million people down to two sides, just cherry-pick data to only show the bumbling idiots (or even otherwise reasonable folk in one bad moment) and present that as stone-cold journalism. Both right and left media outlets do it and there’s only one word for it: propaganda. But surely nothing bad can come of that.

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