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Saturday, December 01, 2012

Can we get a press that reports on reality over here?

Michael Grunwald, Time:

It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. It’s even more amazing to see them pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.

This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old.

I’ve written a lot about the GOP’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that Republicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to GOP threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened.

That’s just a taste. You should read the whole thing. If you happen to be a journalist, you should find the nearest chalkboard and copy the whole thing down 100 times. Preferably while wearing a dunce cap.

Democracy can’t work this way. We have a free press for a reason. We need a press that’s free to challenge assertions that are clearly false and, in doing so, makes sure we have an informed electorate. We have a free press, but we might as well not. They have the freedom, but they don’t use it. And our democracy is weaker because of it.

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