Balancing Both Sides Against the Middle

Self Sacrifice Zealot

The political journalism canard that if both left and right are complaining about your coverage, you are doing something right is punctured, again, by Eric Alterman:1

This journalistic calculus is partly why so much of our political discourse is artificially colored by he said, she said reporting that is of little use to our democracy. Why it rarely weighs facts, draws conclusions and exposes the dissemblers, prevaricators and liars. Why it more often than not resembles a referee, yes, but one at a pro wrestling match, purporting to be a fair watchdog but completely ineffectual and easily rolled (if not totally in on the joke) when faced with a party who simply refuses to play by the rules. Why a supposedly preeminent member of the Washington press corps like the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank could write the following five years ago:

[A 2004 survey] found that 75 percent of Bush voters believed that Iraq either gave al Qaeda ‘substantial support’ or was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks…

This is not to pick on Bush followers. Many on the left harbor their own fantasies that they consider fact—about how Bush knew of 9/11 in advance, or how he was coached during one of the presidential debates via a transmitter between his shoulder blades.

I’ll set aside any confusion possibly caused by this inconvenient memo to state unequivocally that I’m no crazy 9/11 truther. Nevertheless, it’s still amazing that, in Dana Milbank’s mind as well as his editors, an erroneous belief held by 46.5 million Bush voters, one of whom at the time of the survey was also our Vice President, constitutes as big a threat to democratic discourse as a minority of fringe conspiracy theorists on the left, none of whom have ever gained so much as a toehold within legitimately respected circles of intellectual or political discourse.

In fact, it took an astute reader to later corner Milbank on his baldly false equivalence in a subsequent Post webchat, where Milbank’s response cast aside his righteous anger at so much political spin and instead became an object lesson about Nietzsche’s abyss: “Let’s for now leave aside the question of the % on each side that believe a falsehood. I think the examples cited are actually quite similar.” Wow, wholly abandoning any attempt to defend the logic behind one’s assertion while at the same time confidently re-asserting its veracity.  Ari Fleischer, eat your heart out.

(click to continue reading Our Editor-in-Chief President | Eric Alterman – The Nation.)

President Obama has seemingly been subsumed by this same adage, asserting that since both liberals and Tea Baggers don’t like the Give Millionaires Tax Breaks They Don’t Need policy, the tax policy must be good. Uhh, no. Guess again!

Jerk City

Ari Berman writes:

In his press conference yesterday2 , President Obama testily defended his tax cut deal with Republicans and labeled Democratic opponents of the plan “sanctimonious” and “purist.”

So do Obama supporters agree with the president’s assessment that this was the best compromise he could get and he did all he could to fight for middle-class tax cuts and not those for the wealthy?

The answer seems to be a pretty resounding no. A poll commissioned by yesterday found that 74 percent of Obama volunteers or financial backers in ’08 oppose the deal. More than half said they’d be less likely to support Democrats in 2012 who back the compromise and would be less likely to donate to Obama’s re-election campaign. Pretty sobering statistics for the president and his team.

(click to continue reading Obama Supporters ‘Dismayed, Betrayed, Insulted’ by Tax Deal | The Nation.)

  1. or someone sitting in for him. Who is Reed? []
  2. December 7,2010 []

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