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Hullabaloo


Thursday, September 15, 2016

 
Paving, Then Polishing, the Road to Hell 

by tristero

Can Nicholas Kristof truly be totally oblivious to what he's doing? Yeah, yeah he can:
Clearly, Clinton shades the truth — yet there’s no comparison with Trump. 
I’m not sure that journalism bears responsibility, but this does raise the thorny issue of false equivalence, which has been hotly debated among journalists this campaign. Here’s the question: Is it journalistic malpractice to quote each side and leave it to readers to reach their own conclusions, even if one side seems to fabricate facts or make ludicrous comments?
The answer, obviously is yes, it is indeed journalistic malpractice to quote fabricated facts and ludicrous comments by candidates. But Kristof then makes a very common error:
There are crackpots who believe that the earth is flat, and they don’t deserve to be quoted without explaining that this is an, er, outlying view...
Noooooooooo! When dealing with crackpots, and especially powerful crackpots, the media needs to weigh carefully whether to quote at all. Why? Because to repeat lies and idiocies in the media legitimates them.  It provides them - and the people who spout them - a status they would otherwise not receive or deserve. No one needs to argue whether the earth is flat, creationism is a scientific theory, climate change is real, or that insanely racist proposals like building a large wall on the Mexican border is a sensible idea. Who the f*** has time???

But the problem in Kristof's column goes far beyond his defense of repeating candidates' lies and nonsense.  Remember, his topic is the problem of false equivalence, which he clearly deplores. But look at the structure of his column:
Yes, Clinton has been.... Meanwhile, Trump is...
Clinton’s finances are... Trump would be the first major party nominee... 
Yes, Clinton created conflicts of interest...But the Trump Foundation... 
The Clinton Foundation...while the Trump Foundation.... 
Neither candidate has been very open about health... 
Clinton has produced... than Trump... 
Clinton has a...while Trump would have...
Of course, the point Kristof's trying to demonstrate is that Trump is a scoundrel.  But no one will bother to wade through or remember the details of Nick's comparisons.

What's important is the fact that Kristof writes as if Trump actually is comparable to Clinton. It doesn't matter whether Trump doesn't compare - Nick Kristof made the comparison anyway. 

Therefore, Trump=Clinton. The details? Let's not argue about the details, that's just partisanship.

Yes, Nick intends well, but this column is a textbook example of how not to write about our bizarre election.