Saturday, November 5, 2016

Balancing Act

Interesting article in the Washington Monthly by Nancy LeTourneau yesterday revealing the Trumpian source of New York Times hit pieces on Hillary Clinton. Apparently the nonprofit "Government Accountability Institute" was co-founded by Steve Bannon, formerly of Breitbart and now Trump's campaign advisor, with Peter Schweizer, GAI's president and author of Clinton Cash. Mainstream news reporters would pick up the allegations made by Schweizer. The right wing machine would then pick the same stories back from the "left-wing" media once they had the imprimatur of the mainstream, thus "weaponizing" the allegations with more credibility than if they had only appeared on Breitbart in the first place.

A key element of the problem for journalism in addition to the constraint on resources is the antiquated fair and balanced model of so-called objective journalism. The right wing media machine feeds the need for false balance that the NYT craves for the appearance of objectivity. The NYT sees themselves as "liberal" and they therefore need stories with a conservative slant. This tilt to the right to achieve "balance" is illustrated by the choice of Liz Spayd for public editor at NYT. How else to explain the public editor position that the claims of false equivalence can be ignored without regard to the merits ---because most of those making the argument are liberals. Only if we recognize that Spayd thinks like a conservative is it clear that is why she was chosen as public editor- for balance--because the Times considers themselves so liberal.

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