Will This Be The End Of False Equivalency?

The press' abandonment of Bothsiderism is decades overdue.

We’ve endured decades of Bothsiderism in the press, even as the Republicans mutated in front of all our eyes into an anti-democratic, anti-science, anti-truth, intolerant party of white grievance. The process started long before Trump. Now, it’s just glaringly obvious.

Instead of accepting those results, the president’s devotees spurned them. They gathered at so-called “Stop the Steal” rallies at state capitols across the country to claim, without evidence, that ballot counts favorable to Biden stem from a sprawling, multistate conspiracy to hijack the vote through fraud. It is unclear how widespread such views are beyond these events and high-profile conservative figures, and some GOP figures have pushed back on claims of a rigged election.

While a few “mainstream Republicans” exist at the fringes, the small number of Republican elected officials — people who swore to defend the Constitution and represent all Americans — “pushing back” on Trump’s unfounded claims of electoral fraud is also glaringly obvious.

But at least the press isn’t presenting the situation as a “both sides have valid opinions” moment. Anchors are saying that these are lies. Reporters are even confronting, as they are interviewing them, the Trump supporters who are echoing Trump’s attack on the integrity of the elections. There’s also a none-too-subtle shift from calling the political force driving the Republican Party today from conservatism to Trumpism.

How long will this long-overdue acknowledgement last? Hard to say. It certainly won’t extend to a brutal self-appraisal of how Bothsiderism got us to this moment, just as any form of denial lets destruction run rampant. There will be lots of continued tut-tutting about how the feral animal got loose in the democratic house, smashing norms, attacking imagined opponents, and generally making life hell for everyone. But there won’t be any self-flagellation about how long it took to recognize that it wasn’t OK to say anything about that rampage.

At the very least, news outlets should stop inviting Newt Gingrich and his ilk to panel discussions. It was back in the 1990s that Gingrich made the demonization of Democrats official Republican strategy. At the same time, people like Anne Coulter and Laura Ingraham were describing liberals as traitors, in the anti-democratic pornography that they spewed in books, radio shows, and appearances in mainstream news programming. Let’s not invite them back to any national conversation.

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Kingdaddy
About Kingdaddy
Kingdaddy is returning to political blogging after a long hiatus. For several years, he wrote about national security affairs at his blog, Arms and Influence, under the same pseudonym. He currently lives in Colorado, where he is still awestruck at all the natural beauty here. He has a Ph.D in political science that is oddly useful in his day job.

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    Haven’t read your piece yet, but that was a cool ass pic to choose for an article named like you chose.

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  2. mattbernius says:

    On topic for this, this thread which is to long to include, written by one of the founders of News Buster’s and later The Washington Examiner, is a really important read. The TL;DR version is it details his coming to grips with the fact that the goal of right wing media is propaganda versus any form of grounded reporting.

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1324908316548493313.html

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  3. drj says:

    Will This Be The End Of False Equivalency?

    Nope.

    Your co-blogger earlier today:

    And Biden should follow through on his promise to govern in a conciliatory manner—and that means doing the hard work of forging compromise with the legislative branch.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Denial is not a river in Egypt. I fully expect the mistakes of the past to repeat themselves.

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  5. Northerner says:

    Outside of math, all equivalences are false. You only need one thing different to make an equivalency false, and outside of math there’s always some detail that’s different.

    So the division is between useful and not-useful equivalences, and that’s always context dependent. The press (and many people) don’t get that, and seem to work on the principle that if one attributes is the same for two groups, then its a useful equivalency even if every other major attribute is different.

    I doubt that’s going to change in politics though, since the point of equivalencies in politics is to score points rather than to come up with meaningful analysis. And because most people hate hypocrisy at a gut level, but hypocrisy and double standards are pretty much baked into the political system.

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  6. gVOR08 says:

    I’d like to think the supposedly liberal MSM has learned a lesson. But I already see the Dems-in-disarray stories they love so much. They’ll shortly be renewing their unending quest for Reasonable Republicans(TM). You can hardly expect the Sunday morning network talk shows to host more Democrats than Republicans, tradition must be respected.

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  7. Gustopher says:

    From the NY Times today: Kamala Harris’s ancestral village in India rejoiced, but many wondered what changes may come.

    It’s in their DNA. They want to write these stories. They love these stories.

    There are reasonable times to write these stories, and this might even be a fine version of that story*. But they’re a crutch, and it is their favorite crutch, so there will be no change**.

    ——
    *: It should be two stories.
    **: I am pleased to get “there”, “their”, and “they’re” in the same sentence.

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  8. ImProPer says:

    …”abandonment of Bothsiderism is decades overdue.”

    Unfortunately, I think it is a bit early to give up on both-siderism, how ever over due.
    Case in point, link below. Congresswoman AOC, with her usual level of restraint, and humility, waiting what must of seemed a lifetime to make this election cycle about her and her crew.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/08/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-ends-truce-by-warning-incompetent-democratic-party#img-1

    For being a vocal member of the party of “science”, she just can’t accept the fact that frogs actually jump out of the pot prior to getting boiled. It is some first rate cherry picking to see this election cycle as a validation of far left socialism.
    I do agree with your assessment of the far right though.

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  9. ImProPer says:

    @mattbernius:

    Thanks for the link. It was an interesting read, and while I can find well reasoned, opinion from a left perspective, not so much from a conservative one. I think the task is more daunting for the commentary on that side right now. Reading this was refreshing.

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  10. Gustopher says:

    @ImProPer: We also have the conservative Democrats claiming that this election shows that the Democrats also need to reach out to them. And Gov. Kasich, who helped lead team Biden to his great victory in Ohio.

    So, I’m glad we have someone on the left pushing back on that.

    Biden outperformed a crapload of Democrats in house and Senate races — I don’t think we know what this election means, certainly not yet, and if the conservative Democrats and Republican friends are going to try claiming it as a victory for them and then along, someone needs to push back.

    (I think this election shows that Sherrod Brown should have run for President. Unless he did, in which case it shows he shouldn’t have, or that he primed the pump for Biden or something…)

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  11. ImProPer says:

    @Gustopher:
    Point taken. With out question it was a broad coalition that brought forth the win for Biden, and surprisingly all were needed. I’m grateful for all that put America before thier tribes. Trump was a national disgrace, and a threat to our Democracy. I fear he won’t be our last.
    That such a broad coalition was necessary to remove such a cancer, is definitely an indictment of a two party system, and the wide range of philosophies that find comfort there. It also confounds our ability to objectively test claims as to the viability of the different factions among the electorate.

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