I’m glad to see that my post below on the press’s failure to subject the GOP jobs plan to more serious scrutiny has led to some very smart commentary around the Web from bloggers who are trying to explain why this is the case. Here’s Kevin Drum:
I suspect that reporters are simply so used to Republicans embracing nonsense that they evaluate it on a whole different plane than they do “serious” proposals. [But] there’s no reason to give these guys a pass on their laughable jobs plans that virtually no one thinks will create any actual jobs.
If I had to guess, I’d say the root cause is a familiar one: a reporter could tell news consumers that empirical data shows the Democratic plan would work and the Republican plan wouldn’t, but to say this out loud would be to invite accusations of “bias.” Forced neutrality reigns, facts be damned.
But for those who care about reality, the truth is unambiguous: the GOP “jobs plan” wouldn’t make things better, and the American Jobs Act would.
And here’s Jason Linkins:
Beltway reporters, as a rule, do not care about the unemployment crisis except for the impact it has on the reelection of various politicians. So, both plans are “equal” in that both represent a “point of view.” It would never occur to them that the effects either plan would have on ordinary people is worth covering.
These explanations all strike me as pretty persuasive. The problem, though, is that when you offer this sort of critique, media figures tend to immediately tune out the criticism by reflexively dismissing it as mere partisan ref-gaming. One colleague recently remarked to me that reporters might be reluctant to submit the GOP jobs plan to scrutiny by independent analysts simply because Obama had urged them to do it. If they then did that, it would look as if they were doing Obama’s “homework.” Never mind whether his “homework” assignment had some validity and would leave news consumers better informed on issues of far-reaching consequence for the nation.
Similarly, if liberal bloggers are faulting the media for not informing readers and viewers on the core question of whether both parties are making an equally serious contribution to the debate over how to fix the crisis, it can’t possibly be because this question is a legitimate one. It can only be because we’re trying to game the results. Which makes media folks less likely to actually take up the question. It’s depressing and really damaging to the discourse, and quite possibly to the country, too.