Tom Brokaw and the False Equivalence Lie

Tom Brokaw was on The Last Word spouting the mainstream media lie of equivalence. He used Rush Limbaugh’s ditto-heads as an example of people who are committed to a certain ideology regardless of facts. In his new book, Brokaw writes, “He has earned his fortune by creating an enormous audience of the faithful, or “ditto heads,” as they like to be called. A ditto-head is someone who worships at the altar of Limbaugh’s preaching, never questioning his conclusions or reasoning.” Okay. That sounds about right. But Brokaw can’t leave it at that. In the interview, he says, “On the left you’ll find a lot of people who don’t want to hear any ideas if they possibly come from right of center.”

So that’s the equivalence: Rush Limbaugh and his many clones are the same as “a lot” of people on the left who don’t want to hear ideas from the right. Brokaw doesn’t mention where we will find these people on the left, but whenever conservatives make this argument, they always point to NPR, which is about the most even-handed news source in America. But I want to defend these people on the left who don’t want to hear any ideas if they possibly come from right of center.

The center of mass of American politics (at least as far as the media are concerned) has moved radically to the right over the last 30 years. Most of the reasonable conservatives of the past are now considered liberal. Consider, for example, John Dean, or the fact that Richard Nixon was the most liberal president we’ve had since 1970. The fact is that we very rarely hear any ideas from right of center. All we hear is the same ideology we’ve been hearing for 30 years: destroy regulation and lower taxes, especially on the wealthy. This is why the flagship of modern conservatism—Fox News—provides heavily biased coverage (many big stories aren’t even covered while they cover unimportant stories) and misleading and downright deceitful stories. Is it any wonder that people on the left have little patience for “ideas from the right”?

Few people like to listen to people they disagree with. But there is a distinction between this and being closed minded. The very definition of a liberal is one with an open mind. That fact doesn’t stop Brokaw, of course; each side is equally wrong.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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