Monday, September 26, 2016

More on the False Equivalence in The 2016 Presidential Elections

Paul Krugman writes about the false equivalence phenomenon in how the media has handled the two presidential candidates:

If Donald Trump becomes president, the news media will bear a large share of the blame. I know some (many) journalists are busy denying responsibility, but this is absurd, and I think they know it. As Nick Kristof says, polls showing that the public considers Hillary Clinton, a minor fibber at most, less trustworthy than a pathological liar is prima facie evidence of massive media failure.

Or put it this way:  We have a spelling bee in the final round of questions. The winner will run the world.  One candidate is asked to spell "huge", the other candidate is asked to spell "prospicience."

Or put it this way:  One candidate's 'errors and flaws' are subjected to a microscope, the other candidate's 'errors and flaws' are viewed through the kind of veil that was used to film romantic moments and happy endings in old movies*.  At the same time, one candidate's expertise and experience are ignored, the other candidate's lack of expertise and lack of experience are also ignored.  That, my friends is not equivalent treatment.

Or put it this way:  One candidate is a racist, sexist turnip-head with no real qualifications for the job he wants, unless one believes that playing a bully in reality television is such a qualification**.

The other is a career politician.

Yet the false equivalency approach means that "Trump being Trump" is accepted as an excuse for the misogyny and the racism, whereas there is no such equivalence of "Hillary Clinton being Hillary Clinton" for anything she does or is accused of doing.

I see some change in the false equivalence approach, to give some in the media credit where credit is due.  But the damage is probably already done.

* These "errors and flaws" are not intended to be read as being of the same size and/or nature.

**  With apologies to upstanding turnips everywhere.