President Barack Obama, like many of us, dislikes much of what he drinks from the news spigot. As the New York Times reported this week:
Privately and publicly, Mr. Obama has articulated what he sees as two overarching problems: coverage that focuses on political winners and losers rather than substance; and a “false balance,” in which two opposing sides are given equal weight regardless of the facts.
Before I continue, I’ll give you just a moment to guess which of the two opposing sides the president thinks is being given “equal weight” but does not deserve it. Need a little more time? Just another second? O.K.…time’s up! The president thinks the press is allowing his unworthy, mendacious Republican opponents to nullify the truths he speaks from the Oval Office. Obama has expressed these views in meetings with columnists on both the left and the right, according to the Times. It peeves him when reporters give equal weight to both sides when one side is factually incorrect and when they blame both parties when one party is to blame. Obama’s specific beef, it seems, is coverage of health insurance legislation and the stimulus package.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told the Times that the president believes the press engages in false balance so they can say both sides are equally wrong or both are equally bad, which allows the press, said Carney, to “look high-minded.”
False political balance was on Obama’s mind when he spoke at the American Society of News Editors convention in April. He doesn’t blame the press directly, but you don’t need to read between the lines to gather what he’s saying. “I think that there is oftentimes the impulse to suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing, then they’re equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and an equivalence is presented – which reinforces I think people’s cynicism about Washington generally,” the president said.