When - and why - did the US news media get the idea that impartiality meant finding two sides to every question and presenting both of them as equals? That feels like someone converted a rule of thumb, applicable to cases where there's real disagreement between reasonable people, into an iron law that primarily benefitted those that 99% of the readership would otherwise have considered whack-a-loons?

There's obviously risk in judging the border between reasonable disagreement and loony-tunes nonsense - the opinions of the richer/more elite/more hegemonic tend to look more "reasonable" than those of the poor/uneducated/stupid/minority.

But digging for a representative nutter in order to appear balanced? I'd say "only in America", but the practice seems a bit more widespread.

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This actually used to be a law, the fairness doctrine, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCC_fairness_doctrine

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May 14, 2023Liked by Jonathan Stray

Hmm, if wikipedia is correct, the fairness doctrine never required presentation of less-than-controversial issues, but of course corporations prefer to err on the side of caution. Hence whack-a-loons being normalized. Though to be fair, I'm not sure how much that really happened, and how much the real reasons were journalistic incompetence or what would now be described as desire for clicks.

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