In his Plum Line post, “Ostrich Punditry refuses to reckon with reality of today’s GOP,” Greg Sargent addresses the ‘blame both parties equally’ school of political commentary, with a focus on AP’s Ron Fournier, who recently criticized the president for not being able to make much progress against Republican obstructionism. Sargent responds to Fournier:
If anything, it’s punditry such as Fournier’s that constitutes a surrender of sorts. It’s not enough to claim Obama’s legacy will inevitably seen as a failure to overcome GOP intransigence (should that happen), because history isn’t fair. The question is, should that be the case, and would blaming Obama for failing to overcome it be a reasonable and accurate assessment? Fournier, in effect, is giving up on the pundit’s ability to engage this question forthrightly and directly, and by extension, on his ability to influence public and elite perceptions of what’s happening. Fournier regularly derides “partisans” on both sides of this argument. But the refusal to apportion blame accurately — when the facts plainly merit assigning it overwhelmingly to one side, and not the other — is itself a form of partisanship and bias that impairs judgment and, in the end, misleads readers.
Fournier, of course, is not alone in his inability to get real about where the gridlock is coming from. The U.S. seems awash in mainstream reporters who suffer from this malady. Fortunately, there are a few reporters like Sargent who are unafraid to tell it straight.