by Lindsay Kornick
Former New York Times reporter demands harsher media treatment of Republicans: 'Democracy is literally at stake'
Reporters from several outlets supported calls to end "both-siderism" in media with even harsher treatment of Republicans after another columnist decried covering Democrats too critically.
Los Angeles Times columnist Jackie Calmes published an opinion piece titled "Why journalists are failing the public with ‘both-siderism’ in political coverage." Calmes, a New York Times reporter before joining the Los Angeles Times, called out "journalistic pressure" to produce seemingly balanced stories that prevents journalists from reporting what she referred to as "the new truth."
She targeted journalists who "focus critically on President Biden and Democrats" as opposed to "Republicans’ obstructions."
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"To the extent, then, that journalists and pundits focus critically on President Biden and Democrats and give short shrift to Republicans' obstructions -- as if the cancer of Trumpism was in remission, if not cured -- that indeed distorts reality and disserves readers, listeners and viewers," Calmes wrote.
Calmes repeatedly criticized Republicans, warning that "democracy is literally at stake" surrounding the GOP’s recent election laws.
"This is a Republican Party that
is not serious about governing or addressing the nation's actual
problems, as opposed to faux ones like critical race theory," Calmes
Column: For years it was easy to cover “both sides”—Rs & Ds—as equally worthy, & blameworthy, partners in democracy. With Newt, that began changing.— Jackie Calmes (@jackiekcalmes) October 15, 2021
Now, when reporters or pundits use the words “both sides” re some pol problem, I stop reading or listening.https://t.co/SA9QRzEMPD
She concluded her op-ed writing, "Democrats can't be expected to deal with these guys like they're on the level. Nor should journalists cover them as if they are."
Various journalists or former journalists voiced their support for the op-ed and also condemned an alleged "both-siderism" in reporting.
New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer tweeted, "Good point from longtime reporter @JackieCalmes: Missing from much political coverage is that only one party is even trying to govern."
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New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah-Jones added, "Every political journalist should read this and the book ‘How Democracies Die.’"
Former VP at NPR Bill Buzenberg tweeted, "Great Op Ed — important message for every journalist. (NPR and PBS this includes you). Please don’t ‘balance’ the truth with an outright, calculated lie, and call it objective reporting or interviewing."
Good point from longtime reporter @JackieCalmes: Missing from much political coverage is that Only one party is even trying to govern https://t.co/2TiihTo3oo— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) October 17, 2021
Every political journalist should read this and the book “How Democracies Die.” https://t.co/mvEcYz5gIs— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) October 16, 2021
Great Op Ed — important message for every journalist. (NPR and PBS this includes you). Please don’t “balance” the truth with an outright, calculated lie, and call it objective reporting or interviewing. https://t.co/fN6nCU0jyz— Bill Buzenberg (@Buzenberg) October 16, 2021
"American politics has changed dramatically since my post-Watergate generation of journalists began covering the story. Political journalism hasn’t kept up."— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) October 16, 2021
I have been waiting for this column — by a former political reporter — for a very long time. https://t.co/HA24FXcWaR
outstanding from @jackiekcalmes https://t.co/aBIiHZB3BF— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 17, 2021
Why journos are failing in political coverage - LAT. This by @jackiekcalmes is spot on. I know her well and, as her name implies, she’s a calm, rational reporter. But she’s rightly pissed that we give psycho #Trumplicans “both sides” coverage. https://t.co/zoQvGOrKYB— howardfineman (@howardfineman) October 17, 2021
“A balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon is a distortion of reality and a disservice to your consumers.” https://t.co/qUkS30tKmg— Farnoush Amiri (@FarnoushAmiri) October 17, 2021
Yes, indeed. https://t.co/4NpQZhKseL— Pam Fessler (@pamelafessler) October 15, 2021
Column: Why journalists are failing the public with 'both-siderism' in political coverage https://t.co/DEFU4PRU7D— Timothy Aeppel (@TimAeppel) October 17, 2021
It was also praised by liberal CNN White House correspondent John Harwood and left-wing commentator Jay Rosen. Both lauded NBC's Lester Holt this year when he proclaimed earlier this year that "fairness is overrated" in journalism.
"I think it’s become clear that fairness is overrated ... The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in," Holt said.
CNN's liberal "Reliable Sources" newsletter team proclaimed it a "sharp critique of bothsidessism."
Fox News reported earlier this year on the growing trend of journalists throwing away the appearance of objectivity to the applause of fellow liberal media figures.
"I do think it is a trend, and it frankly started with Trump even before all this election stuff," one network news reporter told Fox News Digital at the time.
Lindsay Kornick is an Associate Editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @lmkornick.
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