WaPo Columnist Jen Rubin: There’s No Need for ‘False Balance’ When Covering Republicans


Former PJ Media editor and current House “conservative” for the Washington Post Jennifer Rubin is complaining that the media is taking it too easy on Republicans. Faulting the media for portraying Republicans as “rational,” Rubin believes that the press needs to abandon the silly notion that there should be equality in coverage.

“The Kabuki dance in which Trump, his defenders, and his supporters are treated as rational (clever even!) is what comes from a media establishment that refuses to discard its need for false balance that it has developed over the course of decades,” she wrote.

The free, independent media is supposed to be the tripwire between disinformation (deliberate distortion) and widespread misinformation (innocent or willfully ignorant regurgitation of lies). Instead, it has been a megaphone for disinformation, upholding the pretense that there are two political parties with equally valid takes on reality.

And so we are left with media coverage that expresses shock when Trump says something laughable, demonstrably untrue or just plain crackers. While mocking the “defenses” Trump and his sycophants have raised, the political media might want to consider whether this is all that surprising — and what it has collectively done to normalize Trump. It should also consider how it can reconfigure its coverage to better convey objective reality and rise to the task of sustaining our democracy.

“Mocking” Trump is “normalizing” Trump? Rubin needs a mental health day — or two. If mocking someone normalizes them, Rubin has a very strange sense of what’s “normal.”

But what gives away Rubin’s blatantly partisan advice is the idea that only she and Democrats can convey “objective reality.” There is no such thing as “objective reality” in politics and to say so gives oneself away as a partisan hack. I can guarantee that the reality experienced by someone outside the urban, coastal left-wing enclaves where Democrats control the news narratives — the view of “objective reality,” if you will — is a lot different than Rubin’s arrogant assertion.

The “false balance” that Rubin mentions used to be called “journalism,” as Jonathon Turley reminds us.

Balanced reporting is now dangerous and makes the media “a megaphone for disinformation, upholding the pretense that there are two political parties with equally valid takes on reality.”

Rubin’s attack on disinformation is ironic given her own past controversies in misrepresenting news, cases, and events. For full disclosure, I clashed with Rubin over her personally attacking me for a theory that I did not agree with in a column that I did not write. I also challenged her on an equally bizarre column where she wrote about my impeachment testimony and later column misrepresenting the holding in an appellate case involving Trump. That false account was never corrected by the Washington Post. It appears that misrepresenting the holding of a major case is not being a “a megaphone for disinformation.”

Rubin, however, is not alone in this call to abandon the foundational principle of impartiality in journalism.

It’s now all about “advocacy journalism.” And news outlets, journalism schools, and the radical left social justice movement are pushing it because they know that sheer numbers of reporters, editors, and publishers are already on their side.

Writers, editors, commentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Stanford journalism professor, Ted Glasser, insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.” He rejected the notion that the journalism is based on objectivity and said that he views “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality.”  Thus, “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

As an old man, I can remember when there was a genuine pride taken by reporters and journalists in maintaining balance, in telling both sides of the story and allowing the reader to decide for themselves the truth of the matter — or, in deference to my former colleague Jen Rubin — “objective reality.”

Any other approach is left-wing agitprop or propaganda.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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