Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Truth About the Truth About False Balance

The Truth About False Balance by the Public Editor of the NYT today is a great disappointment. Many of us have been waiting for a NYT response to the many reasoned criticisms by Krugman and others of the Times' confusion between (1) reporting in proper context and (2) following the facts and accusations wherever they lead (which means wherever they, the NYT, are led - big difference). The posts that follow offer exhaustive criticism of their approach. They do not see that the false balance approach that leads toward investigations diverts attention away from policy.  When we are talking about Clinton Foundation or emails, we need to recognize that the context was set by partisans, not by a search for "the truth". The inevitable result is a Matt Lauer forum with Hillary Clinton focused exhaustively on the emails. Mr. Lauer set forth the rule to talk about yourself and not the other candidate. A better rule would be to focus on policy - what are your policies and the same questions about policy could have been asked of each candidate. But that would have meant no email questions.

To be fair or maybe overly understanding, abandoning their traditional model of objectivity is a big deal for the NYT, but they should at least understand the arguments about false balance before dismissing them out of hand. There are many good comments that follow the NYT piece, but those observations repeat comments that have been made on NYT opinion pieces in the past - arguments that were obviously ignored by the Public Editor.

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