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New WaPo-ABC Poll Shows Toxic Impact of Media’s “Both Sides” False Equivalency “Reporting”


Before we get to the subject noted in the headline, let’s present the good news first from this morning’s new Washington Post/ABC News poll: President Obama is now at an approval rating of 50%-44% among all U.S. adults, “the highest in a Post-ABC poll since the spring of 2013…nine points higher than in December and seven points higher than in October.” Again, that’s the good news, and it comes in spite of negative, biased reporting by our overwhelmingly corporate and right-wing media.

Now the bad news, for which I overwhelmingly blame the corporate/right-wing media’s incessant – and blatantly, demonstrably, empirically false – narrative that it’s actually “both sides,” not just the Republicans and Tea Partiers, who are equally responsible for gridlock in Congress, problems in our country, you name it. Again, keep in mind that this is not just false, but wildly so. Now, here are the results that have me so appalled:

*“Overall, who do you trust to do a better job coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years (Obama) or (the Republicans in Congress)?”

The contrast between where we found ourselves in 2009, when Republicans handed the baton to Democratic leadership, and now, five years later — is stunning. And this massive improvement in our economy comes about in spite of Republican obstructionism, shutting down the government threatening to default on our country’s national debt, declaring that their #1 priority was for President Obama to “fail,” etc., etc.  Yet in spite of all that evidence, the Post/ABC poll finds the country almost even split on who they trust to do a better job facing country between President Obama (40%) and Republicans (36%), with 17% saying “neither.” Again, I blame the corporate media, and its 24/7 barrage of false equivalence, “both sides” reporting for most of that. I also blame Democratic politicians, Mark Warner being a prime example, for adopting this brain-dead, utterly false “framing” and perpetuating it.

*“Who do you think is mainly responsible for [government dysfunction] – (Obama and the Democrats in Congress), (the Republicans in Congress), or both sides equally?”

Again, there’s no question, factually speaking, who is at fault here: the Tea Party and the Republicans. They are the ones who have behaved in a wildly irresponsible, destructive manner since President Obama took office. They are the ones who shoved sequestration down our throats. They are the ones who shut down the government. They are the ones who threatened to default on our country’s national debt. They are the ones who blocked investment in U.S. infrastructure, action on climate change and energy policy, action to help stem the scourge of gun violence, comprehensive immigration reform, action to address growing income inequality and wage stagnation, you name it. And despite all this, Democrats have made progress pulling us out of the Great Recession, which was handed over to President Obama by Bush, Cheney, etc. Yet somehow, Americans hold “both sides” equally responsible (61%) for making our government dysfunctional (note: an additional 18% bizarrely blame President Obama and Democrats in Congress, while 20% correctly blame Republicans in Congress).

*” Who do you think is taking a stronger leadership role in the government in Washington these days, (Obama) or (the Republicans in Congress)?”

Ditto to my previous comments.

Bottom line: the American public’s belief that “both sides” are responsible for whatever problems our country faces, for government “dysfunction,” etc., is completely false. As Thomas Mann of the American Enterprise Institute and Norm Ornstein of the Brookings Institute wrote in 2012 (and the situation hasn’t changed signficantly since then):

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

Bingo. Yet the American public doesn’t know this. Why not? Corporate media, j’accuse!


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