In the June 21-27 issue of The Nation magazine,* journalism professor Eric Alderman says America has been “badly served” by the format of the media he calls “phony both sides.” Alderman claims that editors want to appear unbiased, so much so that they give equal space and equal importance to disinformation and to credible science. Furthermore, he says, this false-equivalence shifts the media’s political center to the right. He’s correct. Political nonsense is reported more than logical proposals.
Spectacular headlines, incredible statements, and ideological extremes attract attention and are politically more effective than reasoned, scientific, dull policy statements. Much of the nation is angry over elite assumptions of entitlement, worried over the ever-widening rich/poor gap, distressed because bank executives remain unpunished after 2008, and disillusioned by false pronouncements of equality while the Supreme Court gives personhood status to money.
Is investigative reporting inherently liberal?
Yes. Investigative reporting on current science and politics necessarily makes the reporter appear biased. (Note that I’m reporting here on science and politics, so this report appears biased—which it is because the political war on science is oppositely biased.) If the reporter merely repeats only what each side says, that would be equivalent to repeating round-earth and flat-earth claims as though both were established scientific hypotheses, whereas a good reporter might show a photo of earth taken from the moon.
The term, “liberal” can be characterized as basing value or actions on evidence and analysis, while “conservative” can be characterized as valuing established experience and doctrine. Both approaches are useful. Analysis provides guidance, but we gain wisdom through experience. The current situation is unfortunate. Analytical reporting could make the Republican candidate and the party appear both incredible and vicious.** Unfortunately, that’s close to an accurate picture, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Where is there a party for the fiscal conservative who is a social liberal, for my friends who want evolution not revolution? That party is missing. It’s time a candidate and the media had the courage to say so. Such a candidate could be elected. Except that she/he would get few headlines, few TV news spots, little money. Still, I want somebody to say so.
So I’m saying so. Here.
* Self-described as: America’s oldest weekly, founded by abolitionists in 1865, the flagship of the political Left.
** The Democratic party might also suffer from an in-depth review.