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  • Thursday, November 11, 2004


    Press Evaluation, Pt. 2

    From part two of a series evaluating the media's performance during the 2004 campaign. Grapefruits and Grapes:

    "As the election year accelerated and campaign rhetoric grew more heated, reporters found themselves in a bind. Clinging to a constrictive notion of objectivity, and looking apprehensively over their shoulders for angry charges of bias from partisan readers, they often resorted to a technique known in journalistic circles as 'false equivalence.'

    Along with failing to fact-check competing claims, false equivalence belongs in the trash heap of discredited journalistic shortcuts, but in the final weeks of the election campaign reporters began relying on the practice as a protective shield. In its most common form, it amounts to a reporter holding up actions on both sides as equally blameworthy, when it's clear that no such equivalence exists. The classic parody of false equivalence:

    To be sure, Candidate X is a mass murderer, but it's worth keeping in mind that Candidate Y is a serial jaywalker."

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