Monday, March 21, 2005

Slamming Milbank and Broder

The Daily Howler is essential reading for anyone who needs to be convinced of just how mind-numbingly awful the American press corps really is. In today's essay they take the Wahington Posts's Dana Milbank to task for a breathtakingly stupid but entirely typical instance of phony Both-Sides-Do-It-Ism:

The press corps’ alleged bias is constantly flogged. But often, it’s harder for people to comprehend how dumb the corps really is. How big a lightweight is the Post’s Dana Milbank? In Sunday’s Outlook section, Milbank confesses to what his headline calls a “bias for mainstream news.” The scribe’s worry? “Partisans on the left and right have formed cottage industries devoted to discrediting what they dismissively call the ‘mainstream media,’” he writes. “[T]he consequences are ominous for the country,” the troubled scribe quickly explains:

MILBANK (3/20/05): Consider a poll two weeks before the 2004 election by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes: The survey found that 72 percent of President Bush's supporters believed that, at the time of the U.S. invasion, Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction or at least major illegal weapons programs. It also found that 75 percent of Bush voters believed that Iraq either gave al Qaeda “substantial support” or was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Further, majorities of Bush supporters believed that U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer and the 9/11 commission backed them up on these points.

“It’s fine to argue about the merits of the Iraq war, but these views are just plain wrong,” Milbank writes. But we think you know the brain-dead rules that drive the work of Milbank’s cohort. If you say that conservatives are grossly misinformed, you must instantly say the same thing about liberals! Just like that, Milbank delivers:

MILBANK: This is not to pick on Bush followers. Many on the left harbor their own fantasies that they consider fact—about how Bush knew of 9/11 in advance, or how he was coached during one of the presidential debates via a transmitter between his shoulder blades.

Two decades ago, the late senator-scholar Daniel Patrick Moynihan remarked that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Now, ideologues are claiming their own facts as well.

But how many people “on the left” believe that Bush “knew of 9/11 in advance?” Is it anything like 75 percent, the number Milbank has just cited in discussing those disinformed Bush supporters? And how many people “on the left” actually believe, as a matter of fact, that Bush was coached during that debate? In these cases, Milbank cites no polling data, because there is no poll on the face of the earth which would produce anything like the type of equivalence he so slavishly seeks here. Could liberals be as factually deluded, one fine day, as conservatives currently are? Of course they could, but that day hasn’t come. But so what? Milbank presents nonsense about Bush and 9/11 because it supports a gutless approach his flyweight cohort insists on. (Emphasis in original; See original post for links)

Exactly right. What makes this even more disturbing is that Milbank isn't a lightweight. Back when he wrote for The New Republic he was a consistently sensible commentater on political issues. Since moving to the Post, however, he has been forced to water down his writing with the sort of nonsense the Howler commented on above.

They go on to bash the always worthless David Broder for his latest bit of inanity. Go have a look!


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