I’m dying to know. Which class is it in America’s Journalism Schools that’s confusing everyone? Which class is instructing American Journalists that if you can’t write anything else, fall back on ‘Well, both sides do it…!’?
Whichever class it is, it’s screwing up American Journalism to the point where American Journalism is HELPING undermine the Republic. ‘Both sides do it’ is literally blinding them to the larger — and far, FAR more important — story.
‘Both Sides Do It’ Journalism accepts that a man stealing a loaf of bread because he’s hungry is the same as an industrialist stealing billions from the commonweal. Yes — both men are thieves. BOTH SIDES DO IT.
But there’s a difference of scale between them, yeah? Stealing a loaf of bread and stealing billions are both thievery but aside from that abstract fact, there’s not an iota of similarity. And while you could say ‘BOTH SIDES DO IT’ — it doesn’t exactly capture ‘The Truth’. In fact, it perverts the Truth.
That’s what ‘Both Sides Do It’ instantly eschews: Scale… Proportion… Context. It’s a headline that doesn’t actually match the story.
As we head toward an election that will absolutely decide this country’s fate, the American News Media is taking ‘Both Sides Do It’ Journalism to bold new heights.
Today’s ‘It’ — Enthusiasm. Both sides have enthusiasm. Yes, they do. But the ‘nature’ of that enthusiasm — that’s actually the story. People who want to restrict rights have one sort of ‘enthusiasm’ and people whose rights are about to be restricted — they experience a whole ‘other’ kind of ‘enthusiasm’. Theirs is existential. The other is merely cruel and mired in fear of the ‘other’. It’s Lizard Brain thinking (as it were).
When you report them as being the same — it distorts everything about the story. It screws with the Truth. It’s not far enough away to be dismissed out of hand, but it’s close enough to blur reality in peoples’ minds. Damage done.
When you approach every story already fixated on the false narrative that whatever crime one side does, the other is matching it step for step. The most painful example remains every time a ‘serious’ news media outlet hosts a panel discussion about Climate Change and they invite a Climate Change Denier to sit in on the panel.
Television — this is not a revelation — is a mostly visual medium. How you see things is key to how you perceive them. When a news outlet splits a screen 50-50, the inherent message is “These Two Sides Are Equal” (by the same token if they squeezed those screens to represent reality — perhaps that would be a genius way to faithfully represent how arguments compare). When a Climate Scientist shares a 50-50 screen with a Denier — the two are given equal weight, as are their arguments. Science gets diminished while bullshit gains credibility. That can’t possibly end well.
But that, too, is part of ‘Both Sides Do It’. It slides easily into false narratives because it starts from such a distorted place. Once False Narratives get launched, they take on a life of their own. The Truth gets harder to discern from all the bullshit surrounding it.
After a while — as we have now — American Journalists start out from a ‘Both Sides Do It’ perspective. They fail to see any sort of proportionality. A candidate who equivocates about a senate vote becomes the same as a candidate who lies about raping someone. They both failed to tell the Truth. BOTH SIDES DO IT.
No, American News Media — Both Sides DO NOT DO IT.
Both sides DO NOT regularly cheat to win elections.
Both sides DO NOT do not disenfranchise and suppress voters.
Both sides DO NOT ‘knowingly’ accept money from FOREIGN DONORS!
Both sides DO NOT lie with such shocking impunity.
Both sides DO NOT so clearly serve the needs of their White, Wealthy, Christian, Male donors at the expense of every other American.
Both sides DO NOT declare Culture War on other Americans.
Both sides DO NOT commit TREASON to hold onto power.
Both sides do not do it. Period.