Sunday, April 24, 2022


I've been criticizing the Democratic Party a lot lately, and some readers aren't pleased. From the comments to my last post:

I'm not whining (or even "whinning"). I'm urging Democrats to fight back by talking about Republican extremism the way Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow did on Tuesday (although I assume they won't).

Among liberals, arguing that the press needs to do a better job of portraying the GOP as a dangerously extremist party is not particularly controversial. I'm saying that Democrats need to do this, too.

Margaret Sullivan, who writes about media for The Washington Post and who was once the public editor at The New York Times, writes this about her former employer, which has just hired a new executive editor, Joe Kahn:
... one of the world’s most influential news organizations is in need of serious soul-searching.

Our very democracy is on the brink, and how the Times covers that existential threat is of extraordinary importance, especially as crucial elections approach this fall and in 2024. Will the paper’s coverage forthrightly identify the problems posed by a radicalized Republican Party that is increasingly dedicated to lies, bad-faith attacks and the destruction of democratic norms, or will it try to treat today’s politics as simply the result of bipartisan “polarization”? Will it try to cut the situation straight down the middle as if we were still in the old days — an era that no longer exists?

... adherence to the press’s true mission and highest calling demands journalism that discards the safety-seeking instinct for false equivalency.
If we think it's extremely important for the press to tell the whole truth about the GOP, why don't we also believe that it's important for the opposition party to do the same thing? While the feral nature of the present-day GOP leads many of us to believe that the mainstream press ought to rethink old habits, it's understandable that the press would have a natural tendency toward balancing and even-handedness -- but the Democrats have no excuse. A political party's core message should always be "We're better than the other guys." And yet Democrats tiptoe around the majority of Republican positions and the nastiest Republican rhetoric, limiting themselves to talking about disagreements on a narrow range of kitchen-table issues on which Democrats haven't even been able to pass significant legislation during the current administration.

If the press needs to tell us that Republicans are dangerous, then so does the only party that can prevent Republicans from taking office. Isn't that obvious?

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