My new "Think Again" column is called “The Mistaken Bias of The New York Times’s Public Editor” and it’s here.
My Nation column is called “The Washington Post’s Feckless ‘Fact-Check’” and it’s here.
Reed is on the case, as well.
The Post’s Pitiful Post-Truth Punditry
by Reed Richardson
As far as media criticism goes, one can usually count on election years to provide an embarrassment of riches. And certainly, the Washington press corps’ behavior during the 2012 presidential campaign has not disappointed. But if you wanted to drill down into substrata of the political media to get a purer reading of its foundational problems right now, one really need look no further than the Washington Post.
There, you’ll find two of the most egregious examples of media malpractice currently drawing a paycheck—Glenn Kessler and Jen Rubin. The former acts as the Post’s purported “Fact Checker,” charged with sluicing out nuggets of truth from a steady torrent of political rhetoric; the latter occupies a kind of token right-wing spot within the Post’s opinion-page lineup, which has a dubious and troubled history of predecessors. And while the two of them have distinctly different editorial roles at the Post, they routinely betray a similar intellectual deceitfulness, one that should both anger the news organization’s readers and shame its editors and publishers.
Rubin’s punditry, faithful readers of this blog know, has previously received scrutiny from both me and, in a much more detailed takedown, Eric. Late last year, I also examined the structural flaws among fact-checkers that plagues Kessler and his ilk. So, how would the pair react to the Democratic convention in Charlotte this past week? Well, a quick tour through their work suggests a perilous distillation is occurring—the crucible of the campaign’s home stretch seemingly having served to only amplify Kessler’s journalistic equivocating and purify Rubin’s already gauzy Republican cheerleading.
As for the former, take a look at Eric’s piece in The Nation this week (see above), where he has trained his rhetorical fire directly on Kessler’s feeble coverage of late. Regarding Rubin, well, when Bill Clinton invoked the phrase “alternative universe” in his speech Wednesday night to describe the worldview in which many conservatives inhabit, the first person that came to my mind was not a right-wing politician like Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan or even a conservative movement leader like Grover Norquist or the Koch Brothers—but her. Truly, to peruse Rubin’s online columns is like peering into a parallel, cartoon-like universe, one where a constantly bumbling or—alternately—mendacious Obama campaign is continually foiled by the smarter, heroic Romney campaign. Indeed, if Obama is reelected November 6th, I would not be startled to read a subsequent post by Rubin, explaining her giddy anticipation of attending the inaugural speech of Bizarro President Romney.