This debt ceiling debate has exposed plenty of dysfunction – only not in our nation’s capital, but in our nation’s newsrooms. Media coverage seems to fall into one of two categories: too partisan or too “balanced,” and both come at the expense of the truth.
If you took the 24-hour news cycle’s word for it, this mess we’re in is equally the fault of Democrats and Republicans. In reality, both parties share some blame for not coming to a civilized deal that will protect our nation from default, and our most vulnerable from devastating cuts. But, the facts tell a very different story than the never-ending media narrative that suggests that both sides are equally complicit. The facts actually show who is responsible for the debt (link to NY Times graph: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/07/24/opinion/sunday/24editorial_graph2.html?ref=sunday), who truly wants to fix it, and who is negotiating in good faith. In fact, watching Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell “negotiate” with Democrats is like watching Lucy hold the football for Charlie Brown, just to pull it away when he kicks, and then tell Chuck he’s not being a team player.
When Republicans aren’t blaming Democrats, they’re blaming Washington. But “Washington” has become a scapegoat, one that can’t defend itself in a primetime address to the nation. And it’s a Washington that the Speaker himself helped build, yet is so quick to throw under the GOP Express.
Every time we blame Washington (a city) we let the real culprits (the people in that city) off the hook. This time it’s the Republicans who are getting away with putting political interests above the well-being of our nation’s poor and elderly, ahead of our children and our families.
On the other side of the aisle, President Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress have been more than willing to meet somewhere in the middle. They understand what’s at stake, and are willing to put politics aside to do what’s right for our country.
Yet, turn on the television or pick up a newspaper, and you’ll hear a different story of two equally sinister villains ready to destroy Gotham. It’s just not the case, and it’s not what journalism – good journalism (Link to the Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/07/washington-isnt-broken-the-republican-party-is/242491/)– is about.
If you look at the polls (link to LA Times story on poll: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/14/news/la-pn-debt-limit-polls-20110714), the American people get it, they know that the blame is not equal, they understand that the problem lies with the Republican Party and their Tea Party faction. They know that Minority Leader McConnell is serious when he says that his first priority is to defeat President Obama even at the expense of defeating all of America. So when will the mainstream media begin to take the lead from the public… to separate fact from biased opinion and intellectually dishonest rhetoric from reality?
When a doctor misdiagnoses an illness, we hold them accountable in court. Yet, when the media distorts and misdiagnoses the source of our nation’s ill, we have no legal recourse.
So, don’t just heed President Obama’s call to contact your Congressman, write your local paper, tweet the major networks (@ABC, @nbc, @CBSNews) and cable channels (@MSNBC, @FoxNews, @CNN), and tell them to do their job – and hold those who threaten our nation’s future accountable for doing theirs.