Shutdown And Hostage-Taking — It Is NOT Both Sides Doing It

One side says, “Never mind the deal we just agreed to, cut this or we’ll shut down the government” and the other side says, “This isn’t fair, and it hurts people. We can’t keep agreeing to pay these ransoms, this has to stop!” Is this “both sides squabbling?” Is this “Congress can’t get its act together?” Or is this a group of hostage-takers using media obfuscation of what is going on as cover for a radical strategy to turn people against government and democracy, while the “other side” tries to stop them?

So here we are, another fight looms over shutting down the government. This time the Republicans have taken disaster relief hostage and are using it as a lever to demand we cut even more of what We, the People do for each other, so that the big corporations and the wealthiest 1% can have even more wealth and power. Many in the media are reporting this as “both sides squabbling” but this is not what is happening.

Democracy depends on the public being informed so that they can hold their representatives accountable. So the media has a responsibility to correctly identify, in clear terms, just who is doing what. “Both sides do it” tells people not to bother to vote, that government and democracy don’t work, that you should just tune ou and leave it to the plutocrats to run things. Stop it!

“Blame Both Sides” Reporting

The Chicago Sun-Times, in Government on brink of shutdown again blames “Congress”, calls it “bickering” and “posturing” and blames “Congress.”

More “blame both sides” reporting is found in today’s Progressive Breakfast, hiliting this NYTimes story, Flood Victims Getting Fed Up With Congress says the current hostage-taking is “a dispute between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency,”

“Neither side wants the other side to get credit for doing anything good,” Mr. Golembeski said. “Elections are coming up.”

Neither side wants the other to get credit. Nice.

“Members of Congress are playing with people’s lives, not just their own political careers,” said Martin J. Bonifanti, chief of the Lake Winola volunteer fire company. “While they are rattling on among themselves down there in Washington, people are suffering.”

Dear NY Times, “members of COngress” are not doing this. ONE PARTY is doing this. The story offers nothing to counter the quote.

“Members of Congress are intelligent, but they have no common sense,” Ms. Swithers said. “They fight too much. They should be put in a corner and take a timeout and start working together as a team. I’m so sick of hearing Republicans this and Democrats that.”

Dear NY Times, This fight is not “Republicans this and Democrats that” it is Republicans taking disaster relief hostage and using the suffering of the people you quote as a lever to gut programs like green energy.

Norman Ornstein writes about this problem, in What ‘The Washington Post’ Doesn’t Understand About the Looming Government Shutdown,

One of the biggest problems of reporting on our dysfunctional politics has been the reflexive tendency in “mainstream” media to balance, via what is increasingly false equivalence. A glaring example was a front-page, above-the-fold story in Saturday’s Washington Post by Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, titled (in the print edition, though not on the web), “Gloom Grows as Congress Feuds.” The story was about the looming showdown, and possible government shutdown, over disaster relief funding. The piece makes sure to include a comment from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor blaming Democrats, ends with a comment from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blaming Republicans, and includes a comment from an independent analyst blaming both.

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