The media: Guilty of ‘false equivalence’?
With only six weeks until Election Day, I want to make a plea to the media, said Michael Cohen in The Boston Globe. “Stop treating Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as equals.” Clinton “shades the truth,” but is highly qualified for the presidency; Trump is a egomaniacal serial liar “running on a nativist and racist platform.” Yet in an effort not to appear biased, news organizations have been treating the two candidates’ flaws with “false equivalence.” The media blows any negative story about Clinton out of all proportion, while failing to focus public attention on Trump’s unhinged policy proposals, his undisguised bigotry, and his outrageous lies. Sexism clearly plays a role in this, said Annalisa Merelli in Qz.com.Voters aren’t used to seeing a female nominee, so Clinton has to fight the perception that she “lacks charisma” or isn’t “presidential.”
Sorry, but the idea that the media has been going easy on Trump is “demented,” said Noah Rothman in CommentaryMagazine.com. The coverage of him hasn’t been “soft”—there has simply been “too much negative news to cover.” From the bogus Trump Foundation to fraudulent Trump University to his hidden tax returns, “the din of scandal coverage is so deafening it’s turned into white noise.” What all these critics really want “is for journalists to apply their own moral and ideological judgments to the candidates,” said Liz Spayd in The New York Times. But that’s a “slippery slope.” The media’s job is to present the facts, not to downplay Clinton’s ethical lapses out of a “paternalistic” concern that voters will come to the wrong conclusion. “If Trump is unequivocally more flawed than his opponent, that should be plenty evident to the voting public come November.”
It’s not the media’s fault that the race is so close, said Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone. First of all, reporters were entirely justified in going after the “nexus of elite connections” that is the Clinton Foundation. Is it news that Bill Clinton accepted $1.5 million in speaking fees from a Swiss bank that was seeking relief from Hillary’s State Department? Sure is. But anyone who claims “there’s insufficiently vast documentation” of Trump’s “unfitness for office” hasn’t been paying attention. His lies are called out almost every day. All that coverage is “just not having the predicted effect.” That’s because “we’re a nation of idiots” who choose our leaders on gut feelings, and think elections are a form of reality TV.