Sunday, August 14, 2011

Debt-ceiling crisis coverage lousy

By resorting to a picture of the recent debt-ceiling fight as two political sides equally sharing the blame of refusing to be reasonable, the news media successfully gave an impression of being an impartial observer of reality. However, since that wasn't what happened, mainstream journalism mosstly failed to tell the story in a complete, fair and accurate way.

That's according to an insightful posting by The Nation magazine contributor Ari Melber, whose reporting includes blasting a typical take on the wrangling about approving an increase in what the federal government may borrow to pay bills it already incurred.

"Take this headline, running at the top of CNN [which Fox News calls "liberal"] a day after President Obama’s national address," Melber writes:

" 'They’re all talking, but no one is compromising, at least publicly. Democratic and GOP leaders appear unwilling to bend on proposals to raise the debt ceiling.'

"Journalist Josh Marshall confronted that bizarro narrative with evidence of what’s actually happening. 'By any reasonable measure, this [CNN headline] is simply false, even painfully so'," Marshall said.

"Whether you think it’s good or bad, we have just seen one party’s leadership embrace the platform of the opposing party," Melber adds, "only to watch that party apparently back off its own original position. That’s news!"

Marshall continues, "It is not partisan or spin to say that the Democrats have repeatedly offered compromises. The real driver of the debate is that the fact that Republican majority in the House can’t agree to win."

"Editors or management will not accept a political story about one side being completely wrong," Melber wrote, "Or irrational. Or irresponsible. Because that 'can’t be the whole story!'

"And if you believe that, then your only response to the endgame of the debt crisis is total denial," he concluded. "That may be human, but it ain’t journalism."