Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wolf Blitzer earns his equivalency diploma reporting on government shut down.

There are reasons why a Pew Research study on American attitudes towards journalists revealed that on average, 70%  say they don't trust the news media to accurately report the facts and that number also specifically applies to CNN which has it's lowest ratings in twenty years.

It's been talked about before from Bill Moyers to NPR's release last year of new standards for their journalists, that the insidious practice of main stream journalism to try and find equivalency in anything regarding politics and policy so as not to offend one side or the other regardless of the truth,  this phony idea of "balance", which has no place in honest reporting, has devalued the role of journalism as much as it has devalued the journalists practicing it.

In trying to find "equivalency" in the debt ceiling crisis and Republicans shutting down the government and bringing the country to the brink of default, and with all the polls showing the public blaming Republicans for what happened (and for good reason) Blitzer made a mockery of himself and CNN when he tried to find a false Democratic equivalency to the Tea Party Republicans and their destructive tactics by saying that "some Democrats who are now railing against Republicans for refusing to raise the debt ceiling did the same thing during the Bush Administration".

 Sean Wilentz in his Rolling Stone article on the Republican Party and it's tactics, "A House Divided"(Oct.24,2013)  helped define false equivalency "whereby blatant falsehoods get reported simply as one side of an argument and receive equal weight with the reported argument of the other side".

Watching Blitzer try and claim that Democrats did the same thing is just that kind of blatant falsehood and is another reason Blitzer and CNN at times are almost a satire on American journalism .

Obviously Democrats did not do the same thing.  There was no equivalency in the fact that some  Democrats voted against raising the debt ceiling during the Bush presidency and the Republican tactic of refusing to allow a vote at all in order to  shut down the government and threaten a default to extract concessions from a Democratic president.

This is not so much to defend Democrats -- had it not been for Obama's sell out of the public option he replaced  with a watered down insurance industry written law known as Obamacare the shutdown wouldn't have happened in the first place --  but to once again show how useless the news media is especially in times of crisis. Blitzer's attempt at phony journalism by trying to say "both sides did it"  was nothing short of dishonest as well as pathetic. 

What Blitzer ignored in his quest for false equivalency  is that Democrats never shut down the government or threatened the country with default. Or threatened the country with anything.  They were also  never in a position to refuse to raise the debt ceiling as Blitzer falsely claimed since during the first six years of the Bush presidency they were the minority party.

 Democrats who voted against raising the debt ceiling during the Bush presidency at least had the opportunity to vote, something Republican leadership denied during the shutdown in not allowing a no strings attached clean bill to be brought to the floor.  That is worlds apart from Republicans trying to exact political concessions  in  return for not forcing the country  into default and dealing a blow to American citizens and the economy.

What Blitzer also ignored is that those Democrats who voted against raising the debt ceiling (which again, is a world apart from preventing a vote  at all)  did so at the time to protest Republican refusal to pay for the war in Iraq. Republicans passed bills to deficit finance the war and then wanted to raise the debt ceiling to borrow money to pay for it  because they refused to pay for it by raising taxes.  (No current member of the Tea Party claiming the deficit is what motivates them said a word about this at the time).

Republicans not only refused to raise revenue to pay for the war in Iraq which would have kept the balanced budget and  zero deficit they inherited from Clinton intact, they actually cut taxes as part of their conservative mantra,  which made Bush and the Republicans the first U.S. government in history to cut taxes and take the country to war at the same time. The result created a $1 trillion deficit, almost 3/4 of the current deficit and something we are all still paying for. The decision not to pay for the war and deficit finance it so  Republicans could implement their mantra and cut taxes was a much more worthy reason for voting against raising the debt ceiling than trying to undo a law you disagree with but didn't have the votes to stop and were soundly defeated in an election largely over the same issue.

Since Blitzer was willing to distort the truth either out of a bizarre journalistic idea of "balance" or a cowardly fear of angering Republicans,  perhaps Democrats should do what Blitzer was afraid Republicans would do -- boycott CNN until he is willing to report the truth as it is, retract his assertion that " Democrats did the same thing"  and not twist himself and the facts into a pretzel in order to appease either congressional Republicans or viewers sympathetic to Republican politics for the sake pretending there is "balance" in world events.

The last thing Blitzer ignored in his distorting of reality was that Democrats made no attempt at using tactics destructive to the country to hold the debt ceiling hostage in order to gain other legislative advantages as Republicans  did,  made no attempts at using procedural tricks either in the House or senate to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage even though at the time the deficit financing of the Iraq war blew a gaping hole in the balanced budget and a zero deficit and was a much more justifiable fight than Obamacare.  And in the end during the Bush years ( as with Reagan)  the debt ceiling was raised in all cases without delay and without damage to the country.

CNN has had a long history with both Blitzer, Candy Crowley and some others never holding politicians accountable either for their actions or challenging them when they clearly lie. They always look at it as letting a politician tell "their side" which can include repeatedly lying, falsifying facts, or ignoring results.  That was the case recently when CNN conducted a soft ball interview with Ted Cruz and let him blatantly lie about facts without a challenge. In CNN's quest for equivalency,  if a Republican went on a rampage and committed serial murder, Blitzer and Crowley would bring up unpaid parking tickets by Democrats and point out that people in both parties break the law.

As journalism, Blitzer trying to compare the Republican shut down and threat of default which cost the economy $24 billion, to Democrats in Congress  simply exercising their right to vote against something they opposed during the Bush years, earns Blitzer his false equivalency diploma as the valedictorian of the movement and false journalism.  A diploma he should be too embarrassed to hang on a wall. But isn't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such a fantastic essay - you summed up all of my thoughts perfectly!