Wednesday, August 29, 2012

'We're Not Going to Let Our Campaign Be Dictated by Fact-Checkers'

Atlantic editor-in-chief James Bennet asks: What if the press calls out the lies and nobody cares,
Critics have for many years inveighed against "false equivalence" or "false balance" in the mainstream press. This long crusade has finally achieved its grail, or at least a version of it: In this campaign season, political reporters have been shucking the old he-said-she-said formulation and directly declaring that certain claims are false. This new approach was signaled on Sunday, when, as James Fallows has noted, The New York Times, in a front-page story, flatly stated that a Romney ad was "falsely charging that Mr. Obama has 'quietly announced' plans to eliminate work and job training requirements for welfare beneficiaries."

But what if it turns out that when the press calls a lie a lie, nobody cares?
Why should Bennet or any other journalist care if the truth has an impact?  Isn't getting to the actual truth of the the matter the very point of journalism? 

Bennet notes that the now infamous Romney ad falsely accusing the Obama administration of gutting work requirements for welfare recipients has been universally called out and yet Romney still runs the ad. So why should respectable journalists report on what is factual and what is not?

Bennet concludes "Instead of being able to stand above the fray as some sort of neutral arbiter of the truth, the press may be finding that it is winding up on one side of a new kind of he-said-she-said argument."

How exactly is a journalist who knowingly ignores or reports false claims standing "above the fray"?

Isn't the side of truth the side of the argument serious journalist want to find themselves? 

If the public cannot pick up the Atlantic or the New York Times or the Springfield Whatever to learn what is fact and what is fantasy than why do they even exists?  

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