The 30-second Rule

From Paul Krugman’s blog.

Hmm. A late thought about the discussion on This Week. I suggested that it was the job of the news media to check on and report falsehoods from politicians. The response of the other panelists was that the media can’t do that if the opposing candidates didn’t make an issue of it — which as far as I can tell makes no sense at all.

But even granted that, the fact is that the Obama campaign is making an issue of Romney’s falsehoods, or at least trying to. Yet this is apparently considered unworthy of attention, because Obama didn’t make a forceful attack right there on the spot.

So let’s see if I have this straight: it’s not the job of the press to take on political falsehoods unless the other side makes a forceful case in 30 seconds or less. Glad to see that this has been clarified.

Hmmm x 2. I saw the discussion in question and was appalled by the attitude of the other participants. What underpins it is the fatal flaw in American journalism — the ‘balance as bias’ syndrome. Krugman made the point many years ago in a talk to students at Harvard, as this report recounts:

Krugman was a riot on Big Media’s docility. “If Bush said the earth is flat, of course Fox News would say ‘yes, the earth is flat, and anyone who says different is unpatriotic.’ And mainstream media would have stories with the headline: ‘Shape of Earth: Views Differ.’…and would at most report that some Democrats say that it’s round.” There’s “something deeply dysfunctional,” he observed, with established media facing “something we’ve not seen before, an epidemic of lying about policy.”