Monday, March 21, 2005

And another thing...

This isn't really anything specific--I've written more posts than I'd said I would about Terri Schiavo, and it's all you can find in the news today--but it's something that's bugged me a lot lately.

People (and this includes both sides of the aisle, and I'm not excluding myself from time to time) feel entirely justified in pigeonholing media outlets based on what they perceive as their bias. I put up the results of a Washington Post poll the other day, and those results appeared to be damaging to the conservative position, but they were rationalized away just because they came from the Washington Post and its perceived liberal bias.

So that's the first part. It's dangerous to feel like you can ignore anything that doesn't come from someplace you like. You've got to evaluate everything equally, seems to me.

But here's the other part. Many people (and again, I've done it too) feel entirely justified using those media outlets to back up their point when they happen to agree with them. Too often, I see conservatives cherry-picking articles from the New York Times or the Washington Post, citing that even they agree with the conservative position. In many liberal circles, this is why The New Republic has lost a lot of credibility. Many liberals even go so far as to call it "...even the liberal New Republic."

What I'm trying to say is that you can't have it both ways. You can't make a blanket statement saying that a media outlet is biased in everything it does, and then turn around and say that your point is even stronger because "the other side" even agrees with you. If they're biased in everything they do, they're biased in everything they do, and their agreement with your position is somehow compromised. If you're going to use something that they wrote/reported as concrete evidence of your position's correctness, then you have to give at least some weight to their other reporting as well.