Monday, February 28, 2005

Balanced... But Fair?

USA Today engages in a phony balance exercise on the Social Security privatization p.r. wars.

In a story headlined "Social Security Fight Gets Personal," the paper rightly condemns the USANext campaign against AARP as "mudslinging."

It attacked the seniors group on an issue far removed from retirement security: gay marriage. An Internet ad showed a picture of two men kissing at their apparent wedding with the words, "The real AARP agenda." AARP said it has never taken a position on gay marriage.
However, in the next paragraph, USA Today goes after the left-leaning group Campaign for America's Future for its attacks against Congressman Jim McCrery (R-Louisiana), Chairman of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Social Security.

The group called him "an emblem of increased corruption in Congress" because financial interests, which could benefit from private accounts, have been among his campaign backers. McCrery, who has voiced concerns about Bush's plan, dismissed the attack as "meritless."
On one hand, we have a bunch of liberals calling attention to possible conflicts of interest for the elected official who will oversee the process of phasing out Social Security. On the other, we have a pack of gay-baiting wingnuts making a patently false and inflammatory implication against its political opponents. There is no comparison.

Take particular notice of the responses from the attackees. AARP responds to USANext by saying that it has never taken a public position on gay marriage. This is a verfiable statement of fact.

McCrery responds to CAF by calling their allegations "meritless." This is a legalistic disclaimer utterly devoid of meaning. It is a rhetorical device which does nothing to answer the questions raised by CAF.

It is lazy and irresponsible for USA Today to present the two campaigns as if they were in any way morally or ethically equivalent.

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