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writing for godot

American Political Myths - Fair & Balanced Reporting

Written by David Desautel   
Monday, 20 September 2010 00:24
The desire to be “fair and balanced” is a noble goal, and should be the basic tool used in the dissemination of information in order to educate, inform, and provide knowledge to the American public. The problem lies in the fact that the phrase “fair and balanced” is incorrectly defined and applied as “make both sides look just as good.” The fallacy in that definition is that both sides are NEVER equally good, correct, honest, factual, and right. To give an extreme example, if the sides of an issue were being fought by Adolf Hitler on one side and Mother Teresa on the other, would it be “fair and balanced” to make these two individuals look equally good and right?

In my opinion, the word ‘fair’ in the phrase “fair and balanced” should NOT be applied to the opponents on both sides of the issue, but rather to those who are being informed by the dissemination of information. The AUDIENCE for the mainstream and mass media outlets are the ones we should be treating fairly. The ONLY way to do that is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Facts, facts, and more facts. If one side of an issue is being deceitful, making untrue claims, and making misleading statements, reporting on the fight over that issue should point out the falsehoods and present the truth. Being “balanced” simply means that you cover both sides equally, NOT that you support both sides equally. The end game should always be to inform the people honestly and factually.

What ever happened to journalistic integrity? All news outlets of all sizes and types have a duty to inform, but ALSO to debunk. Why do the major news networks shy away from calling a lie a lie? When Sarah Palin talks about death panels in health care reform, why do we have to turn to MSNBC to hear the truth? The death panel claims are simply not true, and this is very easily determined. Why do we not hear ABC, NBC, and CBS headlining the fact that there are no death panels and never were? It is a particularity warped idea that doing so would somehow be unfair or unbalanced. It is not the job of the media to even the scales and make both political parties seem equal when it comes to honesty and facts. It is the job of news media to research the issues and present the facts AND debunk the lies.

This is the today’s great failing of the mass media. Fox News and MSNBC are on opposite sides of the fence, but that does not mean that they are equally biased and slanted. Fox News is nothing but an outlet for lies, hate speech, race-baiting, and opposition to the left, right or wrong. MSNBC spends a lot of its time debunking the lies of Faux News. If MSNBC has the facts correct and Faux News is lying, why is that not being reported in the mainstream media? Because these two cable news outlets are battling each other, the mainstream media acts as if they are both equally extreme and dishonest. That is simply not the case.

So again, being “balanced” means treating both sides that same. That treatment should be comprised of verifying the truthful statements and debunking the lies – for BOTH sides. If that means that one side gets clobbered because they are telling lies and the other side gets validated because they are telling the truth, that is STILL being balanced and treating both sides equally. Covering up the lies of one side to make them seem as honest as the other is unequal treatment – unfair to the truth-telling side, and doing something “extra” for the other side.

The people want the truth, they deserve the truth, and a successful economy and country requires the truth! your social media marketing partner

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