Mann and Ornstein are two longtime centrist Washington fixtures who earlier this year dramatically rejected the strictures of false equivalency that bind so much of the capital's media elite and publicly concluded that GOP leaders have become "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."I admit that this gave me a sardonic chuckle, because I was being driven slowly mad by this exact phenomenon through the whole campaign. That said, the need for "balance" and the importance of "both sides do it" to the press's narrative is as critical as the focus on the horserace aspects of elections. In sum, we are pretty much still dwelling in the Land of Kabuki Theater Jon Stewart encountered when he visited Crossfire:
The 2012 campaign further proved their point, they both said in recent interviews. It also exposed how fabulists and liars can exploit the elite media's fear of being seen as taking sides.
"The mainstream press really has such a difficult time trying to cope with asymmetry between the two parties' agendas and connections to facts and truth," said Mann, who has spent nearly three decades as a congressional scholar at the centrist Brookings Institution.
"I saw some journalists struggling to avoid the trap of balance and I knew they were struggling with it -- and with their editors," said Mann. "But in general, I think overall it was a pretty disappointing performance."
"I can't recall a campaign where I've seen more lying going on -- and it wasn't symmetric," said Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who's been tracking Congress with Mann since 1978. Democrats were hardly innocent, he said, "but it seemed pretty clear to me that the Republican campaign was just far more over the top."
Sunday, December 9, 2012
The Media Misfire
So today, Dan Froomkin reports on Thomas Mann and Norm Orenstein calling out the media: