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Mann and Ornstein can’t take it anymore

COMMENTARY | April 28, 2012

Two mainstay Washington political scientists urge the press to cease its distorting ‘even-handed’ reporting and take note that the Republican party, now so extreme, is the core reason for dysfunctional government in the nation’s capital.

By Barry Sussman

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have been mainstay political scientists around Washington almost forever, writing sound, informative descriptions of Congress and process in the nation’s capital, quoted incessantly by the political press for their expertise. Years ago they were in the big papers so often that some editors asked reporters to stop citing them. Now these solid citizens are fed up to here with “even-handed” reporting and are sending an urgent message to the press. In a Washington Post essay titled, “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem,” they state:
We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.
Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?
Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be. Report individual senators’ abusive use of holds and identify every time the minority party uses a filibuster to kill a bill or nomination with majority support.
Look ahead to the likely consequences of voters’ choices in the November elections. How would the candidates govern? What could they accomplish? What differences can people expect from a unified Republican or Democratic government, or one divided between the parties?
The two note that they have been “studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional…We have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.”
The GOP, they write, “has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition…When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.”
Their piece, almost 2,000 words long, traces what moved the center of gravity to a number of factors, including the mobilization of social conservatives after Roe v. Wade in 1973, the emergence of Fox News, and others. “But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.”
Thanks to the GOP, they write, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. Worse, they hold that “without a massive (and unlikely) across-the-board rejection of the GOP at the polls…Washington’s ideological divide will probably grow after the 2012 elections.”

Posted by redfish
04/28/2012, 05:30 PM

"Including the mobilization of social conservatives after Roe v. Wade in 1973, the emergence of Fox News, and others."

Yea, because the problem wasn't that judges decided a legislative issue, or that the media was biased against conservatives.

They sound like the problem in politics, themselves. They're rationalizing the fact that Democrats tried to marginalize their political opposition by not leaving issues to an open, honest, democratic process in fear that voters wouldn't agree with them. They just didn't like when Republicans started fighting back.

It would be nice if the partisan rancor could be dialed down, but being passive-aggressive and patronizing doesn't help one bit.

Posted by ancientcane
04/29/2012, 07:11 AM

the problem isnt the GOP, mainstream liberal guys like Ornstein do not matter as much, there is too much info elswhere to refute his coments. The real problem Mr. Sussman, is Obama is going to get beat and the MSM; including you, cannot stop it. All polls show Americans, even Dems see your profession as biased. What Orntein should say is we need to vet Obama because we deliberately failed to in 2008.

Posted by taikan
04/30/2012, 05:24 PM

@ancient cane -- If your comment about Obama not having been thoroughly vetted in 2008 is meant to indicate that Obama wasn't qualified to become President, I agree with you and that's why I supported first Bill Richardson and then Hillary Clinton. However, the primary reason many Americans think the MSM is biased in favor of Democrats is because of relentless repetition of this canard, a la Joseph Goebbels, not because of any objective study of the facts.

@redfish -- If you think the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade involved a legislative, rather than a legal, issue, what do you think of the Court's more recent decision in Citizens United?

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