Having been the target of many clever mechanisms of rhetoric including false dichotomy, ad hominem dismissal, etc., I found James Fallows’s [@JamesFallows] article in The Atlantic yesterday on the origin and manifestations of “false equivalence” to be enlightening.
One quote in particular from Shreeharsh Kelkar of MIT echos a complaint directed at me by a fellow city commissioner awhile back (before Mayor Lane and the Scottsdale city council in their infinite wisdom euthanized that panel of experts):
It seems to me that our political discourse also contains a similar kind of boundary work — between “politics” and “policy.” Our politicians will always say: What I’m doing is just plain old common sense or the right thing or just good policy, or just the solution to a problem; whereas what my opponent is doing is playing politics. And if one sees politics as actually a way of managing relations between conflicting groups of people, one can see why they do that.
Kelkar continues by offering a theory and historical perspective as to the decent of the editorial press into mediocrity…or worse. It’s an interesting read.
Following the lead from Washington why should newspapers or “The Media” tell the truth?