Chuck Todd of NBC has taken a good deal of heat over a comment he made regarding responsibility for misinformation about Obamacare: "What I always love is people say, ‘Well, it's you folks' fault in the media.’ No, it's the President of the United States' fault for not selling it." Todd’s remark may have been taken out of context, but it’s difficult to defend him, or contemporary journalism. Todd’s little lectures on the NBC Nightly News are longer on ego than substance, and much of the reporting on politics or government falls into the no-comment, faux-objectivity category.
Reporting on the impending shutdown is a glaring example of the phenomenon. Republicans demanded, as the price for a resolution allowing the government to operate, delaying implementation of the health care law for a year and a repeal of a tax on medical devices that helps finance it. This is an undemocratic, irresponsible, scorched-earth tactic, but the issue is treated as if it were merely a partisan fight, with equal fault on each side.
An example of that reaction appeared in The Seattle Times on Saturday; an article about the shutdown was captioned "Dems, GOP refuse to compromise on health law; shutdown imminent." The Democrats have objected to a Republican attempt to hold funding the government hostage to their obsession with undermining the health care act; that’s a refusal to compromise. The article was from the McClatchy news service, so I looked at its web site, expecting to find a more sensible heading, but all I found was a variation on the theme: "Both sides threaten government shutdown Tuesday over Obamacare." Here’s another example, a lead on the Washington Post web page: "Parties agree: It’s the other side’s fault."
Journalists either playing stenographer or blaming both sides for every conflict are doing a great disservice, to the country and to their profession.