Tuesday, January 07, 2003

The Washington Post printed some analysis of the Bush Stimulus plan by various economists. Andrew Sullivan complains that the Post didn't mention that one of these economists happened to be a donor to the DNC. Matthew Yglesias posts an interesting response to that complaint:
I suppose they could have mentioned it, but the idea that for an economist to be objective about economic policy he must be nonpartisan is just absurd. After all, what if you looked at the economic policies of the Democrats and Republicans and decided that, while both involved some pandering to political expediency, one party's policies were consistently better than the others. What if that party was the Democrats? Why on earth wouldn't you decide to support the Democratic party?
This is the precise problem with media "objectivity" I've been complaining about. The Bush plan either is or is not an effective means of stimulating the economy. It's a cut-and-dry matter of fact. Saying "this is a tax cut plan masquerading as a stimulus plan" is not media bias any more than saying "North Korea is on the verge of commencing plutonium production."
This sparked an interesting train of thought: if you spend any time analyzing the political parties and find yourself supporting one more then the other, it is only natural that you would more likely come to support that party in other ways (financially, etc.). But, if modern journalism really does require a strict form of "objectivity", then the personal support of one party must be discouraged. The logical conclusion of this train of thought is that only journalists who have no fixed political opinion of their own can be allowed to report on the political issues of the day. This sounds very close to the previously mentioned Undecideds (or Moron Americans). Now, I previously asserted that the Undecideds cannot be appealed to on the basis of political ideology because, quite simply, they don't have any. Instead, they have to be won over by force of personality. You have to tell them what they want in a fashion so convincing that they will come to believe that what you are selling is what they want. You have to win them with spin not reason. All of which leads to a further conclusion: if the standards of "objectivity" results in a press corps dominated by Moron Americans, it's not surprising that so many of them are charmed by the shit Dubya is selling.

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