The Washington Post continues its “For the Record” series today with a debate “primer,” telling us where the two candidates misrepresent the issues. It’s a perfect example of how the headline writers, striving for “balance,” sway the debate. If you read the headline and the sub-head, one might be tempted to not read the article and say pox on both your houses. Both sides lie would be a fair conclusion.
The headline is “A Primer for Tonight’s First Debate, but the sub-head is “Both Bush and Kerry Have Set the Stage With Some Misleading Claims.”
But when you read the article, roughly 80 percent of the text that debunks either’s claims or attacks is about Bush’s exaggerations, false implications and outright lies.
But to say that Bush is by far the more dishonest wouldn’t be considered partisan. And the headline writers, who I suspect are more junior journalists, don’t want to be accused of playing favorites. So what we get is misinformation.