2018/12/06

Objective vs partisan news


Lots of anti-democratic actions taken by legislatures in Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Curiously, my local paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, wasn’t covering any of this. I looked through their paper edition of December 5th and checked their news, politics and opinion sections online. Nada. No mention of what was going on in any of these states. The Inquirer published a piece on the 6th, looking at Wisconsin. This was where the newly-elected governor announced that he’d try and seek an audience with the governor who had lost the election to not destroy democracy in his state.

I was very curious about a paragraph in the Inquirer story:

The session unfolded a month after Republicans were battered in the midterm election. They lost all statewide races amid strong Democratic turnout. But they retained legislative majorities thanks to what Democrats say are gerrymandered districts that tilt the map.

"what Democrats say"? Why is the fact of gerrymandering in Wisconsin treated as though it was somehow controversial for anyone to say this? Why is it treated as though only partisans would agree that Wisconsin's House is very highly gerrymandered?

GQ Magazine says SB 884 passed the State Senate by the very close margin of 17-16, but in the State House, the same bill was passed by 56-27. There were similar margins for SB 886. How can this possibly be explained other than by politicians choosing their voters?

The new legislation tries to protect some of the GOP's achievements in recent years.

Obviously, if the citizens of Wisconsin felt that it was an "achievement" for state health care to have a work requirement, then all of the statewide offices other than the Republican State House majority would have been retained and not tossed out in the November election. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for Wisconsin Republicans to seek to retain what the the citizens of Wisconsin have plainly rejected.

What this piece does is that it seeks to prettify and make noncontroversial what is plainly a power grab by legislators who've properly and fairly had their legislative program rejected by the voters of Wisconsin. But the Inquirer seems to feel that it must cove everything so that it's always a matter of legitimate debate between reasonable people.

A partisan publication like Daily Kos has no use for the appearance of being objective and non-partisan and so can simply relate what’s happening in Wisconsin and other states without seeking to try and make both sides appear to be equally honest and aboveboard.

Fairness is always good and always appropriate and partisan publications don’t always do that, so partisan publications aren’t always the best way to learn what’s going on. There are plenty of times when more objective, even-handed publications are better at getting across the facts of the case. But when the facts of a case are heavily skewed in just one direction, when one side is plainly guilty and the other side innocent, then a partisan publication is better for understanding what’s going on. Naturally, this means that a good citizen will check out the other side on at least an occasional basis.

No, sorry, there is no “one-stop shopping” when it comes to understanding political issues and events. Citizens who wish to understand what’s going on have to check out multiple sources to get the truth.

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