Today’s false equivalence award goes to Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein for their Washington Post op-ed titled, Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.
This false equivalence award is noteworthy, as the authors claim to be writing about false equivalence! In the op-ed they write that false equivalence is a “traditional refuge” for cowed media,
“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.
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.
But, simply unable to help themselves, they negate the point of their op-ed by … wait for it … blaming both sides! They write,
Democrats are hardly blameless, and they have their own extreme wing and their own predilection for hardball politics.
Democrats are “hardly blameless” in an op-ed titled “Republicans are the problem”? Seriously? There is an “extreme wing” of the Democratic Party? Really?
Mann and Ornstein almost got there with this op-ed. But they left out examples of just how extreme the Republican Party has become. They focused on DC-centric examples, and the mild, day-to-day stuff like calling Democrats “communists.” Maybe they don’t know how extreme it really has gotten out there past DC. Maybe they don’t listen to Limbaugh or Hannity, or watch Fox News or read Republican blogs. Those outlets are now the hub of the Republican Party, and today’s politics cannot be explained without including them in the mix.
Or maybe, being creatures of DC themselves, they just couldn’t help themselves.