ADG opened today with the following front page headline:
Still no give in debt impasse
As deadline nears, 2 sides remain dug in
This followed a very similar headline just two days ago:
Neither side blinks in debt showdown
This is nonsense. There is one (1) side that is dug in, and that’s the Republicans. They have declared that they won’t vote for any raise in revenues (fn1) no matter what. As ADG reported on Tuesday:
“House Speaker John Boehner stood firm in opposition to higher taxes. (…) Said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: “We are not going to raise taxes. That’s all. (fn2)
Obama called on Republican leaders to show flexibility, saying he has “bent over backwards” to accommodate them in deficit talks. “I’m prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done, and I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing if they mean what they say”, Obama said.
Obama has already offered wide-ranging budget concessions, including Social Security and Medicare cuts. The ADG storyline of “2 sides” unwilling to compromise is simply inconsistent with the facts.
Let’s be clear here. How one judges these facts is as always a matter of opinion. Is Obama’s willingness, and the Republicans’ unwillingness to compromise a good or a bad thing? Is Obama acting like a “moderate Republican”, as Paul Krugman says? Has he abandoned his principles and caved in? Or does he show himself to be a grownup on a playground dominated by Tea Party kids, as John Brummett thinks? Are Republicans holding the nation hostage in a cynical power play (Gene Lyons), or are they standing up for what is right (numerous right-wing commentators)? These are matters of judgment and interpretation. A newspaper frontpage is supposed to report the facts truthfully and comprehensively so that readers can form their own opinions.
But the ADG doesn’t give its readers the facts. Instead, it uses its front page headline to play politics. No, it is not true that “2 sides remain dug in”. If anything, it is the newspaper’s political bias that is “dug in”.
UPDATE: Excellent post by Paul Krugman about the media’s “cult of balance”.
(fn1) Including taxing corporate jets, reducing Big Oil subsidies, and taxing billionaire hedge fund managers at the same rates everybody else is taxed
(fn2) Cantor was holding up a sign reading “… you don’t raise taxes in a recession.” Ronald Reagan raised taxes ten times during his presidency, starting in 1982 in the middle of a recession. Maybe he was wrong to do so but I have never heard a Republican say so. Apparently, it’s only wrong when a Democrat is in the White House.