False Equivalence Watch, With Positive Developments

By James Fallows

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

NYTJobsBill.png


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

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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:
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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.
WaPo2.png

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/false-equivalence-watch-with-positive-developments/247151/