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The Agenda

NRO’s domestic-policy blog, by Reihan Salam.

Jack Shafer on ‘False-Balance’ Journalism



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Jack Shafer of Reuters has a column on President Obama’s lament that the press corps is in the main too quick to assign equal weight to the right and the left in covering various political debates — a view that strikes me, and that I imagine will strike most NRO readers, as curious. The central difficulty with the president’s view, as Shafer explains, is that the alternative to “false-balance” journalism is rather unattractive:

One obvious cure for the false balance that seems to be giving Obama vertigo would be a press corps that sided with him consistently. This would be an elegant solution if the president were infallible, but he isn’t – as he himself admits.

Shafer then dismantles the “false-balance” critique, drawing on the many instances in which the president has reversed himself.



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