President Obama, Press Critic

Friday, April 06, 2012


President Obama addressed journalists at an Associated Press luncheon and warned them against practicing “false equivalency” – pretending that both sides in a disagreement are equally at fault, even when they’re not. The Atlantic’s James Fallows talks to Bob about the President’s attempt at media criticism.


James Fallows

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [7]

JO from CA central valley

False equivalency is rampant in the media, where showmanship often seems more important than substance. Although Bob Garfield said that the Media is doing better with false equivalency, they still have a long way to go. Exhibit number one is global warming. The vast majority of scientists, 97% is often mentioned, agree with the theory of global warming. There is some disagreement about specifics, but that is expected in a developing field of science. However, too often the media place the counter argument on equal footing. The host of the talk show will say, "Well 'Mr. Scientist' what do you think about the contradictory evidence for global warming"? Then, "Well 'Mr. Counterpointz' what do you think about that refutation"? Back and forth like a boring and frustrating badminton game. The Scientist is hobbled by the passivity of the commentator and Counterpoint Scientist (shill, schmuck, or space cadet) is given free rein. The commentator has set the stage as if it is a debate. However, debates are contests of rhetoric, not the platform for testing the validity of a claim. Science tests hypotheses. Unverified claims may be interesting, but that does not give them equal weight. Similar rigor can be applied to media investigation. Therefore, after Counterpoint Scientist (or economist or politician or pundit) has said his piece, then the commentator can pull out the facts unearthed by the behind the scenes research team. A media author or commentator needs to take a more active and taxing role of engaging the facts. Even on public radio, I pull my hair out wondering why a comntator doesn't confront the guset on a comment or stated platform.

Apr. 17 2012 02:38 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

I dunno, it seems as if "progressives" have sort of been correct about climate change and all that sciencey kind of thing. Probably about over-population, too!

Apr. 13 2012 08:13 AM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

As we all know, there is really only one answer to policy questions. It's been proved by science, and everything, y'know? People on the Left don't just hold their positions and preferences out of self-interest, perish the thought, or emotional preferences. They hold those positions because they are scientifically true, and there can be no reasonable disagreements among reasonable people, because 'progressives' by definition have a lien on Reasons, Science, and History. This has all been proved by professors and researchers, and we all know they don't make mistakes - don't we?

Apr. 09 2012 12:31 PM
Jesse Austin

I listened to this segment and am still scratching my head over the seemingly critical undertone about President Obama’s comment. James Fallows claimed, “the media are actually doing much better” about acting as glorified stenographers – without offering any supporting evidence to back his contention. And doesn’t saying, “getting better” suggest that there was, and is, room for improvement? The media protest too much, methinks. Come back to us when you “vet” the casual lies being spewed by Mitt Romney in his desperate and pathetic campaign of character assassination. Contrary to the bite spit out by the appropriately anonymous "listener," the media absolutely do not "fawn" over this president.

Apr. 08 2012 05:01 PM
Ben from NJ

The "example" James gave in response to the accusation of false equivalency was straight laughable. The fact that the media's unbiased, fact based denial of birtherism is the best he could come up with really says something about the lack of journalistic integrity floating around these days.

Apr. 08 2012 04:59 PM

The irony is how incurious "journalists" are about life outside their bubble.

Apr. 07 2012 07:07 PM

The ridiculously fawning news media gets a dressing down from this President for not be fawning enough to him?
If the independent Legislative and Judicial branches of government can be admonished for not adequately submitting to the will of a condescending Executive branch than why shouldn't the fourth estate be lectured on how to do their jobs by this President?

Apr. 06 2012 08:03 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.