Friday, June 15, 2012

Annals of Embarrassing Forced False Equivalence

NBC's First Read, which is Chuck Todd (who I often think is quite good) and others; my emphasis added:
Another thing that struck us about yesterday’s dueling speeches by Obama and Romney: their selective amnesia. Romney’s remarks never acknowledged the Bush years -- either their economic record or the financial meltdown that took place before Obama took office. For his part, Obama pretty much skipped over the relatively slow growth and the political stalemate that occurred over the past three years. The election could very well come down to which side does a better job of reminding voters of those things.
I can sort of see an argument that Obama downplayed slow growth over the last three years. Here's what he said:
OBAMA: But let’s be clear: Not only are we digging out of a hole that is 9 million jobs deep, we’re digging out from an entire decade where 6 million manufacturing jobs left our shores; where costs rose but incomes and wages didn’t; and where the middle class fell further and further behind.
So recovering from the crisis of 2008 has always been the first and most urgent order of business, but it’s not enough. Our economy won’t be truly healthy until we reverse that much longer and profound erosion of middle-class jobs and middle-class incomes.
So the debate in this election is not about whether we need to grow faster, or whether we need to create more jobs, or whether we need to pay down our debt.
Of course the economy isn’t where it needs to be. Of course we have a lot more work to do. Everybody knows that.
Is that "pretty much skipped over"? I'm not really convinced, but I suppose it's a question of interpretation.

But stalemate? That was the entire theme of the speech! As Barack Obama might say (and I really wish he'd cut this out; anyone else as annoyed by it as I am?): this isn't my reading of the speech; it's just a fact. Or at least, it's what First Read's Michael O'Brien thought important enough to lead his speech story with yesterday. There's just no way that it makes sense to say that Obama downplayed policy stalemate. Emphasized it? Hyped it? Yup. "Pretty much skipped over"? No way.

It all reads suspiciously like the First Read squad had a criticism of Mitt Romney's speech and were flailing around looking for a parallel criticism in Obama's speech. But they wouldn't do that, would they?


  1. You're *annoyed* by "it's just a fact"? I'm astonished! I think it's a crucial message to keep hammering. Obama's whole speech was bent on hammering home that his arguments and policies are based on fact, Romney's on lies and fantasy. Why is that annoying? Can he not call out the other side's nonstop lying? Doe he not need to? Do tell, JB!

    1. Sorry; I understand the message, and it's a reasonable one, and I'm not talking here as an analyst trying to figure out how it plays -- just as someone who has to listen to it over and over, and I can't stand it.

  2. I need a DC political writer to explain to me why they do this stuff- What are they afraid of? Do GOP media operatives beat writers up if they don't call out a democrat also? Not only is it dishonest to write these false equivalences, but it also takes the point out of the story they write. Mitt Romney not having a new kind of center right economic theory is a story, but then when you load that story up with a bunch of pointless jabs at Obama that aren't even really true, it just makes the whole thing less worth reading.

  3. One doesn't wish to believe that the corporate heads and editorial chiefs of the handful of conglomerates which own all this mainstream media consciously decided to do all they possibly could to aid Romney and sink Obama.

    Yet there sure are a lot of strange coincidences piling up that, if one had a suspicious bent of mind, could lead one to a conclusion that a such a decision has been made, and is being implemented right before our eyes.

    Does the proverb "none are so blind as the one who does not wish to see" apply here, both to the masters of big media and the American public as a whole?


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