False Balance

John Timmer writing for Ars Technica about Fox News’ practice of ‘false balance’, which in this case takes NOAA’s weather data to task:

What are we to make of this chaotic jumble of unreliable sources and internal contradictions? As far as Fox is concerned, apparently nothing; the article doesn’t draw any conclusion about the science whatsoever. It’s a classic example of false balance, allowing the reporter to present a biased picture while maintaining the appearance of impartiality.

False balance is a result of not wanting to ever be wrong. I don’t think this is at all about presenting more balance — no I think this is about covering your own ass. If every time I said something really sucks, I hedged with saying that some really like it and that updates could make it not suck, I’d be doing the same thing as Fox.

If I did that every time I made a definitive statement then no one could ever say I was wrong, because in actuality I never really said anything important to begin with.

It’s like reviews on The Verge.

Originally posted for members on: January 15, 2013
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