Soonergrunt wrote about it yesterday, but the article, Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem, by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein in the Washington Post deserves some more attention. It is a rare fact-based, accurate and honest opinion piece. So naturally I have to wonder how something like this got past Fred Hiatt. Now to be fair, it is an article for the Sunday Outlook section and perhaps somebody other than Hiatt is the decider. Regardless how it got there, it is a clear sign that the cult of the “both-sides-do-it” balancers is under attack–and not just because it calls out the Republicans as the problem in Washington.
Mann and Ornstein also call out political journalists in DC. Hiatt’s ears must have been ringing as he read:
We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.
Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?
Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be. Report individual senators’ abusive use of holds and identify every time the minority party uses a filibuster to kill a bill or nomination with majority support.
Look ahead to the likely consequences of voters’ choices in the November elections. How would the candidates govern? What could they accomplish? What differences can people expect from a unified Republican or Democratic government, or one divided between the parties?
Perhaps, just perhaps, cracks are appearing in the auto-bias reporting of the “both-sides-do-it” stenographers. Mann and Ornstein have been in Washington for a long time and they are respected. When they basically call you a media whore in the pages of your own paper, it has to sting a little.
And then there is the new book by Robert Draper, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, that details how the obstruction and dysfunction in Washington is a carefully constructed Republican plan that began the day President Obama took office.
Perhaps it is time for the “both sides do it” meme to meet the dustbin of history. Journalist would serve the Nation better if they sought the truth of a story instead of twisting and/or omitting facts to craft yet another iterative fable to feed the fantasy of “balance”. The article by Mann and Ornstein is a solid hit on the cult of the balancers. May there be many more.
OTOH, as our Head of Infidelity notes, Fred may have been too busy with his usual wanking to even notice the slight.