“If someone says it’s raining, and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the fucking window and find out which is true.”
— Popular Internet Meme
False equivalence is the industry standard for reporting on nearly all popular media outlets. It’s why we have Trump. It’s why we have a climate catastrophe. At some point, the mainstream media became too frightened or morally compromised to report important stories without pretending there was another equally valid side. We all know that’s not how the world works. That’s how lazy people form their arguments. In reality, the science is clear that climate change is massively fucking up the world. You no longer need to be a scientist to understand this, you can see it with your own eyes. Yet, whenever a right wing kook, such as those running the government, disputes this fact, the media feel duty bound to report their doubt and cite what passes for their reasoning. This is a massive moral failure and breathtaking cowardice. Again, it’s why we have Trump and many, many other bad things.
The other fallacious argument that drives much of public discourse is Tu Quoque. This is a Latin phrase meaning “you also.” This is the rhetorical equivalent of “oh yeah, well you’re just as bad as me.” It is used as a device to diminish an argument by asserting that both sides of an issue are equally flawed. For example, “You may believe Creationism is unscientific–that it is only a matter of faith–but, the Theory of Evolution is also based on faith.” This bullshit would be at home on any Sunday morning news show.
The wide adoption of this failure to research, check and report information accurately has led us to a wild west of information where any one piece of “knowledge” is equally valid to another. It is the wedge that Fox News, and the right wing Wingnutverse use to lay the foundation for the batshit crazy pablum they spoon feed to the hordes whose ignorance grows daily due to the absence of a standard of truth in reporting.
Don’t get me wrong. I know there are many reporters who are working hard to swim against this tide and bless them. But the idiots are currently winning this struggle. Godspeed, good reporters!
I’ve always thought that, at some point, the craziness of misleading, dishonest, sloppy and poorly reasoned reporting would reach such a massive level of dissonance with reality that the whole fiction would collapse because people will only accept so much conflict with what their eyes can see. Turns out I was wrong again.