It’s Time To Play “BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT”

The “Benefit Of The Doubt” Theme Song

Hi there, ladies ‘n germs — I’m your host Chuck Todd (excuse me while I roll my eyes thoughtfully as if I was physically capable of having thoughts) —

— And welcome to another installment of “Benefit Of The Doubt — the game show where we give the benefit of the doubt to folks who we probably shouldn’t ought to give it to. But, hey — that’s what I think journalism is cos otherwise, I’d have to do research and prep for interviews! Did I say “Welcome to Benefit Of The Doubt yet? I can’t remember — I get so easily distracted.

Tonight’s panel are, first, my co-worker over at NBC News, Chris Matthews —

Chris — say something to the folks!

CHRIS: I miss Bobby Kennedy.

[While Chuck rolls his eyes thoughtfully] CHUCK: Do you think… What I mean is… What if… Is it possible that Sirhan Sirhan was aiming at someone else that night in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen?

CHRIS: No. Sirhan was Palestinian. He said he hated Bobby’s position regarding Israel. It wasn’t really a question of— Now, wait a minute, Chuck — were you playing the game without saying?

CHUCK: Guilty! I bet if I hadn’t spent the whole time rolling my eyes thoughtfully, you’d have never caught me.

CHRIS: It’s true… Umm… could ya stop now, Chuck — it’s starting to weird me out.

CHUCK: I’ll try, but — now I’m just trying to see if my bangs are straight… I wish they hadn’t left those pruning shears on my makeup table… Our other panelist tonight is CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF: Hi, everyone. I just want everyone to know that the look on my face isn’t because I’m thinking about anything, I’m doing math — I’m figuring out how long much longer I can hold onto the fart now in the chamber. Not much longer to judge from my expression, right?

CHUCK: Thanks for the heads up, Wolf. I’ll just move my chair way over here. [As Chuck moves his chair] Our first guest tonight is Climate Change.

[Polite applause as Climate Change enters and takes the seat next to Chuck’s.]

CHUCK: Welcome, Climate Change! You’re really in demand right now. I feel like we were lucky to get you as a guest.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Well, I am trying to get around — what with the book coming out and–

CHUCK: What– wait– what? You have a book coming out? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

CLIMATE CHANGE: Probably cos you can’t read.

[Chuck flashes angrily] CHUCK: What? I can read just fine. Don’t blame me cos I bore easily. Wait — are my bangs straight?

CHRIS: Please, Chuck, I’m begging ya — stop rolling your eyes! In two seconds I’m going to start hurling last year’s St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef and cabbage. And that disagreed with me then.

WOLF: I bet the gas was intense.

CHRIS: You know it was.

CHUCK: So, Climate Change — We know… what I mean is…

CHRIS: Chuck — stop rolling your eyes–

CHUCK: I’m trying, Chris, I swear it but it’s gone a little autonomic on me. I’m not that in control of it–

CHRIS: Well, I’m not that in control of what I’m about to puke up either.

WOLF: Please stop saying “puke”, it gives me gas.

[Meanwhile, Chuck has continued rolling his eyes]. CHUCK: Are my bangs…? Is it… Would you say…What if the climate deniers are on to something?

[Everyone stops to stare at Chuck]. CHUCK: What?

WOLF: Are you saying climate change isn’t real?

And… SCENE!

‘Both Sides Do It’ Is As Dubious As It Is Dead End

American journalism has multiple issues that prevent it from doing its job correctly.  Corporatism’s up there but we can’t blame corporatism for ‘Both Sides Do It’.

I’m curious — Is ‘Both Sides Do It’ (the market version of ‘False Equivalence’) actually taught at American journalism schools?  Is that where the Chuck Todds & Alex Witts & Andrea Mitchells & Wolf Blitzers & Chris Cilizzas of the world learned to ditch all analytical thinking and simply assume that all things are indeed equal?  They certainly couldn’t have ‘learned’ that from actually studying reality.  Or living in it.

The first thing ditched when a journalist tacitly accepts that ‘both sides do it’ is PROPORTION.  They could (and the Chuck Todds ALWAYS DO) ask the dopey ‘what if’ — “Well, what if this otherwise completely illogical, unbelievable thing were true…?”  The next thing they do — if there’s a shred of similarity — is “See?  Both sides DO do it!”

Yeah, Chuck Todd, they do.  Hey — didja know that humans and fish both ‘breathe’?  They do!  Both sides DO IT!  Of course, humans breathe air and fish breathe water but — that’s a minor detail, right — at least it always is where your storytelling is concerned:  “BOTH SIDES DO IT!”.

Let’s try on proportionality.  A man who steals because he is hungry vs a man who steals BILLIONS because he can.  Both men are thieves; BOTH SIDES DO IT.  The proportions aren’t quite the same though.

If journalism is an inquiry into The Truth, then any journalist taking up the mantle that ‘Both Sides Do It’ has just cut their vision of The Truth in half.  Maybe more.

Any journalist even ‘thinking’ that ‘both sides do it’ is a journalist who’s already left the building.

Bad enough as ‘both sides do it’ is as an ‘analytical tool’, it’s a hell of a lot worse as a basis for action — as in ‘both sides do it so here’s what WE should do…’.  There’s nothing of substance where the ellipse now is.  You can’t take ‘both sides do it’ and create actions to stop both sides from doing it.  It’s a dead end description — in addition to being inaccurate.

The way it almost always works — no, ALWAYS works — is we all turn to Liberals, Progressives and Democrats to ‘be the adult’ and step back from the precipice first.  No one ever looks to conservatives to make the first move because they know — compromise is not in any conservative’s DNA.  There’s a reason they’re conservative:  They want to CONSERVE something — the past is my guess.

Every time they compromise though, a piece of that past gets wiped away forever.  It’s no more than a memory now… .  Conservatives know that.  Newt Gingrich did.  newt-gingrichThat’s why his revolution allowed no compromise.  Compromise wasn’t just failure, it was extinction.  In response, Newt launched the full-on Culture War that got conservatives so crazed they thought joining forces with RUSSIA was an okay idea.  They thought taking Russian money and serving Russian masters was preferable to compromising with progressives.

Think about that.

One side does it for a specific set of reasons.  Conservatives and republicans ‘do it’ because they know the demographics are against them.  THEY ‘do it’ because their ideas appeal to fewer and fewer people — most of whom, it so happens, look just like them.  Conservatives do it because they dread losing power; they know it will never come back to them.  Not if Democracy works the way it’s supposed to…

Which brings us to Mitch McConnell — the man who has single-handedly destroyed the US Senate — the man who stood in the way of Barrack Obama telling America in September that our election was under attack from Russia — whose aim was to make Donald Trump president.

Mitch McC

Mitch, it turns out, has been taking Russian money forever… As in MILLIONS of it.  And we thought he was only the Koch Brothers’ lackey… Silly us.  Mitch literally robbed Barrack Obama — AND EVERY AMERICAN WHO VOTED FOR HIM — of the SCOTUS pick THEIR VOTE WON THEM.

‘Won’ them.  Or is winning different when Democrats do it?

DO both sides do what Mitch did?  No, both sides do NOT.   I rest my case.