Tuesday, September 13, 2016

False Equivalence Yet Again

Lest we only criticize the NYT and WaPo, in "Kentucky governor: Electing Hillary Clinton may lead to violence" the Chicago Tribune finds the shortest route to false equivalence. So "The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood. Of who? The tyrants, to be sure. But who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren." Governor Bevin supposedly clarified his remarks in a later interview as a reference to military sacrifice, which is preposterous, because any fair listen of his statement clearly concludes that this is his call to arms of patriots if Clinton is elected. In fairness to CT, they go on to talk about Michelle Bachman's warnings about this election and broader tea party themes. But in the necessary search for balance, the CT describes Bevin's comments as "the latest example of elected officials promising very bad things if the wrong candidate is elected" with mention of"Democrats warning about Donald Trump having his finger on the nuclear button-a prospect that has been the subject of a Hillary Clinton campaign ad." See what they did there - CT tries to find an umbrella under which both the call to arms by Bevin and some statement by the Clinton campaign can be made to fit together - tortured logic be damned.

Now, Democrats have not been warning directly or obliquely about their plans for armed insurrection should Donald Trump win the election. There is no equivalence between a warning about the bad things Donald Trump would do if Donald Trump is elected and warning about the bad things "patriots" will do if Hillary Clinton is elected. That is a distinction with a difference, not a similarity. Objective reporting requires making clear the contrast between the Republicans' continuing theme of revolt and "rigged elections" and the Democrats' not threatening revolt and armed insurrection.

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