Friday, May 18, 2012

Things You Can't Say In DC

Two respected important people (one of them is even a conservative!) said something that you are not allowed to say:
Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann are well-known in the Beltway. They work at big-time think tanks (Brookings and American Enterprise Institute), appear on television chat shows, and write books and op-eds that powerful people pay attention to.

Lately, though, it seems they've become dangerous men.

Mann and Ornstein recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post (4/27/12) based on their new book. In it, they argued that whining about increased polarization or partisanship in politics obscures a central truth: This problem is not seen in equal measure on both sides. The headline summed it up: "Let's Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem."

They wrote:
    The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
And the piece pointed a finger at the media's false balance:
    We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

    Our advice to the press: Don't seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?
The article became quite an internet sensation–with something like 200,000 recommendations on Facebook. But as Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent (5/14/12) points out, one class of people seem uniquely uninterested in the argument: Sunday talkshow bookers.

    It turns out neither man has been invited on to the Sunday shows even once to discuss this thesis. As Bob Somerby and Kevin Drum note, these are among the most quoted people in Washington–yet suddenly this latest topic is too hot for the talkers, or not deemed relevant at all.

Ornstein tells Sargent, "Not a single one of the Sunday shows has indicated an interest, and I do find it curious."
Out of fear of being called out for bias, political reporters and news organizations constantly fail at their job to inform readers/viewers about the current state of american politics. The fact that respected inside the beltway people are being shunned for saying this just shows how deep this practice goes through our political media.

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