It’s a common –and easy to understand- effort by journalists to maintain objectivity: covering both sides of an issue and assigning equal weight to the actions of each side. Opponents of wind farms decry the costs of offshore windmills; supporters say those costs are offset by the benefits derived from a new, sustainable energy source. Rail subsidies are needed to clear up highways and offer an alternative to air travel; opponents ask why subsidize an industry that doesn’t necessarily succeed in the marketplace? There are plenty of nuances in the examples listed above, but, in a sixty to ninety second television package, or a 45 second radio wrap, or a few-paragraphs long newspaper article those nuances are hardly mentioned.
Journalists, limited by resources, tend to resort to the most “fair” aspect of coverage: here’s one side of the story….
…and here’s the other.
It works, most of the time.
This time, it isn’t working.
False Equivalence – it’s a logical fallacy that assigns equal weight between two arguments.
False Equivalence has been all over the coverage of the current government shutdown.
Jon Stewart pointed this out in his coverage of the shutdown Monday night. It’s worth a view.
On a whim, I decided to pull up Rhode Island’s Affordable Care Act website yesterday morning. It was, after all, the first day in which Rhode Islanders could sign up for Obamacare. I clicked on the link ( www.healthsourceri.com ) and waited….
“Interesting,” I thought. “Either the managers of this program are inept, or it is exceedingly popular and unable to handle the demand.” My guess is that it’s the latter. Oh, and after a quick trip over to the site this morning brought it up immediately.
You’ve seen the video, right? WBZ’s story shows the crying mother and angry wife, emotional over the injuries sustained by their son/husband in a motorcycle accident over the weekend in New York. A young professional driving his expensive Ranger Rover, plowed over the motorcyclist, leaving him paralyzed and in a coma.
Helmet cam video has since been uncovered of these bikers making their way through New York City, taking over the highways and streets and –at best- creating a general nuisance while –at worst- posing a serious threat to themselves and other commuters.
The video shows one biker “brake checking” the Range Rover (brake checking is a long-time Masshole act: a driver passes another driver and then slows down right in front of him); the biker is struck and the entire group stops. Apparently the Ranger Rover driver, in the car with is his wife and infant, felt threatened when the group surrounded his vehicle began banging on the door, and slashed his tires. His fight or flight instinct kicked in, and he drove off (and over our victim) to escape. He was a caught a few moments later, pulled out of his car and beaten. The NYPD continues to investigate the incident and has charged one man in connection with the assault.
Our Ranger Rover driver? He faces no charges.