When the media tells us to “trust” them (“news you can trust”, the “most trusted name in news etc.) to provide balanced coverage, what does that mean?

I take it to mean that they tell the whole story, not just one side. If there are competing claims involved in a story, or if there are pros and cons to a particular subject, or if there is more than one perspective, the media will report on both claims, both the pros and the cons, or both perspectives.

Recently CNN started airing a segment about the efficacy of America’s current (Republican)government. Leading up to the election one would think, for the sake of “balance”, that CNN would also do a segment about the potential efficacy of the party trying to gain power – discussing the Democrats’ “plan”, or trying to figure out what that plan is and whether it’s good for America – that sort of thing. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that CNN has decided to only scrutinize one side of the political debate, what would one expect from a balanced segment about the government’s effectiveness?

In addition to covering all of the areas in the Democrats’ talking points on the governments’ failures (while scrutinizing whether those talking points were fair in the first place) and letting the audience decide for themselves if the attacks are valid, a “balanced” story would also include apparent signs of success, such as a record high stock market, historically low unemployment and higher than expected government revenues flowing from strong economic growth. Again, these apparent successes should be scrutinized, just as the “failures” should be, letting the audience ultimately draw their own conclusions.

On Iraq, we would expect to hear the various criticisms of the war, but we would also expect those to be juxtaposed to the fact that, while U.S. soldiers are dying in Iraq fighting Al Qaeda, no terrorists have killed Americans on U.S. soil since 9/11. One would expect at least a serious attempt to explore the possibility that the “fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here” strategy, might actually be working.

Did CNN show the balance that they promise us day in and day out? Have they delivered on their assurances that they can be “trusted” to provide both perspectives as Americans go to the polls in just a week from now?

Well, here’s a hint: the segment isn’t entitled “Is the Government Working?” or “The Government’s Performance – A Review”. No, it’s called “Broken Government”. And it pretty much delivers on the title, providing a litany of reasons why we should vote out the Republicans. An expansion of Democrat talking points.

Put another way its unbalanced and unfair “news” you cannot trust – pretty much the opposite of what they promise us.

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