Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Enquirer Blog Falls into False Equivalency Trap

I know journalists often look at the political world and try to find two equally opposing viewpoints to compare and then pretend to be objective. That type of action is a false equivalency, see a description of what that is here. The problem is that most of the time, the viewpoints are not equal, they are not the same.

Take yesterday's Enquirer political blog story: Mixing food with politics: What do you think?. The blog post, wrapped around an online poll, tries to marry two topics together: 1) those boycotting Chick-Fil-A for providing financial support to anti-gay groups and 2) The mythical hoards of people who might no longer want to go the Montgomery Inn because the owners took a public political opinion in the Presidential race. The two don't equate. For many reasons:
  1. One is real, the other is speculation.
  2. One is a national effort and one is a mythical-hypothetical local situation.
  3. One is about bigotry and the other is about political opinion.
Number three above is key.  The boycott of Chick-Fil-A, which I participate in, is about the financial support Chick-Fil-A gives to groups like the CCV, the Cincinnati area's own anti-gay bigoted hate group.  This is being treated as a political issue by many conservatives, not a moral issue, and that is the clear false equivalency being allowed to fester by the media.

If a national fast food chain were to sponsor a golf tournament for a white supremacist group, would anyone try to compare a boycott of that fast food chain to what the Montgomery is doing?  No, the media would instead help expose the fast food chain's actions.

Gay rights are civil rights and the CINCINNATI media needs to understand that issue better and more importantly get on the moral side of it.  If too many of your readers are anti-gay bigots, tough shit, be journalists, don't be accomplices in the oppression of gays and lesbians.

We have bigotry in this community happening out in the open and our media far too often lets is slide unnoticed, or in the case of the Enquirer, lets it slide all the time.

The other bad part of the article was that it was talking about an event supposed to take place yesterday where the Republican Governor of Oklahoma was coming to appear with one of the Owners of the Montgomery Inn at their Boathouse location on the river.  This event was a Mitt Romney "We Did Build This” campaign event pushing a lie about the President that falsely claims the President said that small business owners don't build their businesses alone, the government helps. That's not what the president said, but it is the story line that should have been asked of the Governor and the owners of the Montgomery Inn. They should have been asked: Who owns the building where the Boathouse Location resides? The answer is the City of Cincinnati, or as the website says "Cincinnati City Of." I don't think that question was asked, nor asked how much help the people of the City were back in the late 1980's to the suburban based company.  I am just wondering how much hypocrisy you get with a full slab of ribs?

So the Enquirer missed the real story and tried to create one that just wasn't true. Bad day for Journalism.


  1. I think the boycott is a little blown out. The real people hurt are the franchisee and the employees, not the national board and CEO/founder.

  2. So I'm confused about your comment about the "campaign event pushing a lie about the President that falsely claims the President said that small business owners don't build their businesses alone, the government helps. That's not what the president said"; I understand that Romney, Fox News and other conservative personalities both in politics and the media have spread Obama's quote terribly out of context, but I was under the impression that Obama's point was that "government helps" build business.

    And I thought that is exactly what the President said; his whole point as I understood it was that infrastructure, research, tax incentives and other investments the government makes (aka 'government help') allow businesses to exist, function and make money. That business owners don't build their businesses alone, they stand on the shoulders of others and the government to build their business.

    Personally, I think this is a great message for the public to understand and it is indeed the true reality of the American market. Just wondering what you thought Obama said if it wasn't that government helps businesses.

  3. I think proponents of gay marriage do themselves a disservice when they refer to anyone who holds an opposing view point as "bigots" or the like. I went to the CCV's website and it does not appear that they are bigots only that they oppose gay marriage on religious grounds. I am not familiar with the organization, I will admit, but I think we should be much more careful with throwing around claims of bigotry. Now if the organization worked to marginalize gay people with Jim Crow esque laws then I would agree with your claim.

  4. I'm pretty sure things like DOMA and the various laws against same-sex marriage qualify as "Jim Crow-esque," inasmuch as they are designed to deliberately strip rights from a sector of the population.


  5. Josh,

    I don't know how long you've lived in Cincinnati, but CCV is a well known anti-gay rights group (also are anti-porn). CCV was instrumental back in the 1990's in the adoption of Article XII, a City Charter amendment which banned any city ordinances that would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Cincinnati repealed it, thankfully) They are a bigoted group, no question. Sure, they won't say they are bigoted, most anti-gay bigots that get funding from many sources do not go about advertising they are bigots. CCV has been quiet since they got gay marriage and any domestic partnership rights and in their opinion the right of public entities the right to offer domestic partner medical insurance.


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