False Equivalence Watch, With Positive Developments

Here was the coverage in the New York Times early last week:


And here is the coverage of essentially the same legislative result today:


Note the "somebody did something" headline this time, albeit in passive voice, as opposed to "things somehow went wrong" before. Note the use of the word "filibuster," as opposed to "procedural obstacles." Again in my inexplicable and no doubt temporary "let's look on the bright side" mood I say: Thank you, New York Times! And, more, please!

Here at the local WaPo, mixed results. The online presentation of yesterday's legislative news laudably uses the word "blocked" rather than "fails," and rather than blaming the whole thing on feuding Democrats:
Neither the headline nor the lead makes clear that it was Republicans doing the blocking, but by the third paragraph we do get this:
All 47 Republicans voted against allowing the bill to proceed to a full debate, arguing that temporary stimulus dollars for state and local government would do little to bolster the private sector.
And the last paragraph unashamedly uses the word "filibuster," so notably absent from recent WaPo coverage.

On the other hand, we have the headline on the exact same story in the printed paper.

I am usually a print guy, but in this case I'm glad that the online version will probably reach more eyeballs (even if the print readers retain it better - PDF link). Thanks to many readers who wrote to share the positive news with me. Also to Greg Sargent for this item on the Plum Line / WaPo blog.
Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


Photos of New York City, in Motion

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book


The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"


This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.


What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Politics

From This Author

Just In