Comedian Bill Maher Takes Down False Equivalency
In my last post, I took a stand against mainstream news organizations’ custom of giving equal weight to opposing views on an issue, even when one side is complete nonsense. The mainstream media calls this approach to doing the news as “objectivity.” But these same news organizations rarely tell their audiences in their stories who – whether it’s a politician, a think tank, a spokesperson – is stating a fact and who is telling a falsehood. What you have is “false equivalence.” News stories tend to be descriptions of an event or an issue, with a quote from Politician “A” giving a comment, and Politician “B” giving an opposing comment. The reader or viewer is left to figure out on their own who’s pulling a fast one. So you end up with global warming denying crackpots being given the same amount of deference as climate scientists.
The media’s love affair with “objectivity” has unfortunately spilled into our political discourse. We now have the spectacle of political movements that stand up for the rights of citizens being conflated with demagogue-led movements that are front groups for corporate interests. Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time, criticized the mainstream media’s notion of “balance” in a rant taking on the much publicized John Stewart-Stephen Colbert rally that drew more than 200,000 people to the Washington Mall last month. At the rally, Stewart gave a speech casting equal blame on the Left and the Right for America’s current harsh political climate. Maher pretty much trashes that idea. His commentary is as inspired and spot on as it is funny. Click here to see the video.