Tuesday, November 01, 2016

There's a difference between being a hack and having an opinion

Stephanie Grace wants to de-hackify the news.  
Politico ran a good opinion column calling for the whole system that puts partisans like Brazile on news shows to come crashing down. I agree. They fill air time, but what value do they add, what useful information to they give to voters?

Institutions across the board are in for some soul-searching after this most dispiriting election season, and cable news outlets are among those that are overdue for it. And if Brazile's bad-faith act prompts such a reevaluation, well, maybe she will have provided a service for television viewers after all.

Yes, that is all true. But it's important to add a finer point to this. The problem isn't with news organizations hiring commentators who actually... you know... believe things and therefore make comments commensurate with those beliefs. The problem is that they're putting party insiders, career PR operators, and actual campaign employees in those positions instead.

"Bias" is fine. Every person has preferences.   In fact we would expect a person who makes a career out of following and writing about politics to have very strong opinions. Otherwise, what the fuck are they even doing there? We've said over and over again on this blog that the purpose of politics has nothing to do with finding magical "solutions" that would work perfectly for everyone if only they'd stop being so uncivil.  Politics is about competing interests who have to fight everything out all the time.  So it's not necessary for a pundit to pretend to complete neutrality. That is how "both sides" false equivalences happen, actually.

But there's a difference between a commentator's natural biases and the out and out con job perpetrated on the audience when paid shills are presented as arbiters of the debate. That's what we're seeing more and more of this year. (In state politics too. More on that later.) It doesn't rise the level of being The Problem with politics in 2016. But it should stop.

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