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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Newspaper Editor Defends Politifact Lie Against False Balance Accusation

The editor of the Janesville Gazette recently wrote about his take on Politifact's outrageously wrong choice for "Lie of the Year" when they chose democrat's correct portrayal characterizing Paul Ryan's proposals as ending Medicare, for the award.

Although the editor played it safe by refusing to state his position on the choice, he seemed offended by PolitiFact's critics and wrote that he found Politifact's original position convincing and sided against those who surmised that the fact-checking outfit was playing a game of false balance. One of the leading critics accusing the outfit of false balance is economist Paul Krugman.

Janesville Gazette Editor's View: (Dec. 25, 2011)
(Titled: Fact is, Politifact plays Important Role)

I won't get into the argument of for or against the choice. I did, however, find Politifact's original position convincing and it's subsequent defense more so. Here is a telling passage from that response...
"Others portrayed it as a case of false balance where we put our thumb on the scale for a Democratic falsehood. This too, is a sad byproduct of our polarized discourse, from people who are sure their side is always right."

I immediately thought, how is it that the editor of the Janesville Gazette would relate to a statement about false balance, and yet seem so indifferent to it? Why does that sound so familiar? Or, where in the world would anybody get the idea that editors and journalists are bias sensitive and consciously work to balance coverage and rebalance negative perceptions (about a group or issue) with positive stories in a deliberate effort to provide a perception of fairness?

Well, look no further than the editor's own words when he wrote this two years ago...

Rock Netroots (Dec. 2009)
Gazette Editorial Excerpt:
We are frequently criticized for singling out these groups, and we are sensitive to the perception that we are unfair to them. While we're comfortable with our decision making, we consciously work to balance our coverage by providing positive stories about GM workers, teachers and police officers.

No wonder why it struck a chord.

If you like analogies, you might enjoy this one comparing reality to a wheel, with the media spin balancing reality by applying weights to change its speed, shape and momentum to fit their political model.

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