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Something that Really Bugs Me About the Media

Reported by Judy - August 15, 2004 -

One thing that really bugs me about journalists is their interpretation of what it means to be fair and balanced, which is often limited to: If you say something bad about Republicans, you have to say that Democrats do the same thing, and vice versa.

An example is in a column by Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen in today's (August 15) Register.

In a column discussing why the war in Vietnam and attacks on Kerry's Vietnam service are irrelevant to our future, Yepsen wrote:

"Sigh. No wonder Americans grow weary of politics. The shrill extremists at both ends of the spectrum drive much of the dialogue. One week it's Howard Dean and the true believers on the left weaving unproven conspiracy theories that accuse Bush of playing politics with terrorism warnings. The next week it's the true believers on the right questioning Kerry's military service."

Because Yepsen feels he must criticize Democrats as well as Republicans, he searches to find an example to "balance" the day-after-day attack by the swiftees. Never mind that Dean made one statement and that the swiftees have written a book and gone on nearly every cable talk show there is to promote their baseless allegations. Yepsen still has to write, in effect, "Dean=Swiftees."

Unable to find a Democratic alternative to the swiftees, Yepsen owes it to his readers to point out that the two are not really proportional. He could do it by pointing out how many times Dean repeated his statement and how many times the swiftees have repeated theirs. But that would be a little more work than Yepsen wanted to do.

Yepsen's brand of balance may be one reason so many people continue to believe that there are no differences between the two parties, when in fact there are many, or that it doesn't matter which party is in power because they both do the same thing.