Friday, September 12, 2003

The Flip-Flop Trap

I want to give you an example of how the media game is played in American politics today. I call it the Flip-Flop Trap. (Note that I am not describing a real incident. I am only providing an illustrative example of the schizoid nature of modern political reportage.)


  1. Howard Dean gives an interview to Wolf Blitzer and says that Hamas invited attacks on themselves by declaring war on Israel.
  2. FOX, Drudge, etc. start accusing Dean of saying that Hamas is not a terrorist organization.
  3. Dean replies that he said no such thing and of course Hamas is a terrorist organization.
  4. The establishment media says that Dean flip-flops on his position on Hamas.

The rules here are pretty simple. First you accuse an opponent of saying something that they didn't say. Then, when they deny it, you accuse them of back-tracking or flip-flopping.

This is "do you still beat your wife" territory and is fundamentally an unethical way to practice journalism. But it is pretty much par for the course these days.

Get used to it.


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