Of the many baneful effects of the rise of Fox News, the perversion of the word "balance" must be at or near the top. Rather than forthrightly declaring their conservative perspective, they disingenuously insist that their news coverage is "fair and balanced." They sometimes allow a milquetoast and ineffective figure like Alan Colmes on air to weakly present a liberal perspective, and then pretend that makes for "balance."
This has been true for years now, but two recent news stories pointedly drove home for me the pervasive distortion of the idea of "balance."
On the ninth anniversary of 9/11, the Portland Press Herald in Maine ran a front-page story about the end of the Muslim observance of Ramadan. The editor subsequently apologized for running the story because many readers found it "offensive." He went on to say: "We have acknowledged that we erred by at least not offering balance to the story."
The logic of this is curious to say the least. What exactly required "balance" here? The implication is that it was wrong to cover the peaceful religious celebrations of American Muslims on 9/11 without acknowledging the awful thing 19 other (mostly Saudi) Muslims did nine years ago. I defy anyone to find anything in the article itself that is offensive. The focus of the story is a religious community gathering to raise funds for the needy. But somehow it lacks "balance" because there was no mention of the terrorist attacks in 2001.
This is the same collective guilt mentality that pervades the opposition to the Islamic center in lower Manhattan. The idea that "positive" coverage of any Muslim event requires "balance" in the form of acknowledgement of 9/11 carries the clear implication that the crime of 9/11 is something that all Muslims carry, like original sin.
There is nothing "balanced" about that. Quite the contrary, it is inherently imbalanced. That mindset insists that the murderous acts of a small group of religiously motivated fanatics must forever weigh down one side of the scales.
The Texas Board of Education this week passed a resolution to world history texts.
“The purpose of this resolution is to ensure there is balanced treatment of divergent groups,” Gail Lowe, the chairwoman of the board, said. “In the past, the textbooks have had some bias against Christianity.”According to an AP article, this charge is ostensibly based on the fact that a text (no longer in use) "