This is from last week, but I just realized I hadn’t linked up to Matt Taibbi’s vice presidential debate post mortem. In it, he had one of the sharpest analyses I’ve seen about the failures of the modern American political media’s penchant for fetishizing objectivity over accuracy. He writes:
Sometimes in journalism I think we take the objectivity thing too far. We think being fair means giving equal weight to both sides of every argument. But sometimes in the zeal to be objective, reporters get confused. You can’t report the Obama tax plan and the Romney tax plan in the same way, because only one of them is really a plan, while the other is actually not a plan at all, but an electoral gambit.
The Romney/Ryan ticket decided, with incredible cynicism, that that they were going to promise this massive tax break, not explain how to pay for it, and then just hang on until election day, knowing that most of the political press would let it skate, or at least not take a dump all over it when explaining it to the public. Unchallenged, and treated in print and on the air as though it were the same thing as a real plan, a 20 percent tax cut sounds pretty good to most Americans. Hell, it sounds good to me.
The proper way to report such a tactic is to bring to your coverage exactly the feeling that Biden brought to the debate last night: contempt and amazement. We in the press should be offended by what Romney and Ryan are doing – we should take professional offense that any politician would try to whisk such a gigantic lie past us to our audiences, and we should take patriotic offense that anyone is trying to seize the White House using such transparently childish and dishonest tactics. [Emphasis added]
A similar thread would be Romney’s refusal to release his income tax returns beyond a paltry two years. Recent standard has been twelve years. Romney is getting away with this because reporters are allowing him to get away with it. There’s no other reason. In fact, much of Mitt Romney’s ability to be a viable candidate at this point in the election is premised on the media’s abject refusal to confront his campaign’s lying and obfuscation with scorn and outrage, as opposed to obsequious acceptance.