Dear Media,

You guys are fond of leaning on lines like “we report, you decide” these days. And not just at FOX News, either. David Gregory, who took over hosting duties (after Tim Russert died) at arguably the most-influential of the Sunday political shows, Meet The Press, infamously argued that it’s not his job to fact-check his guests. Even before Gregory, Russert had earned himself a measure of infamy along the same lines when he revealed, in the wake of the Valerie Plame scandal that he considers all conversations with powerful political newsmakers to be “off the record” by default unless otherwise explicitly specified.

The tendency today of preferring “balance,” the “both sides do it” notion of reporting which states a reporter must try to find or think of an example of “the other side” behaving similarly badly when one side is caught with their hands in the cookie jar, is fast becoming endemic to your profession, media folk. And, as Bill Maher artfully points out, it’s having a ruinous effect.

So I have an idea, one that will hopefully not violate your inexplicable but undeniable recent urges for balance above objectivity, but will still provide us out here in the public – you know, the consumers of news, your customers – with better tools than you’ve been providing us lately to make informed choices about what or who is really responsible for certain things we see in the news. Here it is:

What say, instead of scurrying around through your memory banks to try to find counter-examples to items in the news, you simply report what happened, and tell us who was behind it; who was responsible/to blame…and then let US decide to what extent “both sides do it,” based on how many instances we see of each side, y’know…actually doing it. We can count and stuff, after all.

Would that be too much to ask? I mean, think of it this way: you’d get to do less work (which means you’d get to head home or down to the bar that much earlier) if you don’t have to try to wrack your brains to come up with examples of how the other side does it, too. Just report what happened, and do enough work to find out why…and then let US decide whether “both sides do it.” Fair enough? kthxbai.

Love,

Pheno