Late last year, Senator John Kerry appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show and made an appeal to media outlets. “The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual. It doesn’t deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do,” Kerry said.

“And the problem is everything is put into this tit-for-tat equal battle and America is losing any sense of what’s real, of who’s accountable, of who is not accountable, of who’s real, who isn’t, who’s serious, who isn’t?” he said.

At the time I thought it to be somewhat of an overzealous statement, but looking at the weekly political debacles and field of presidential hopefuls, I can’t help but start to agree.

Don’t get me wrong-I’m a firm believer in the First Amendment. As a writer and journalist it’s more or less a requirement. But I also believe in the social responsibility the press has to act as a filter, interpreter and de-facto “fact checker” for information and news, something that they’re pretty obviously failing at.

Take a look at the current media landscape-television stations are full of nothing more than talking heads, endlessly arguing at increasingly high volumes as if more decibels equate to more ratings.

They make sure to give equal time to different sides of an issue but rarely stop to question whether or not both sides are truly even equal.

As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said, “I joked long ago that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read ‘Views Differ on Shape of Planet.’”

There are plenty of current examples. Should the media really give equal value and time to legitimize the views of a group who believes that the president forged his birth certificate and is here illegally despite having no solid or credible reason for their beliefs?

Their answer seemed to be a resounding “yes.” The ensuing conflict and prevalence of the “birther” movement even managed to keep Donald Trump relevant as a possible Republican nominee long enough to plug his next season of Celebrity Apprentice.

Journalists have a duty to fact-check and not act as a loudspeaker for false or outlandish claims, but in an effort to appear centrist and unbiased no matter the issue at hand, they’re doing a disservice to everyone involved.

Weighing everything equally just for the sake of pursuing balance is nothing more than a cop-out.

I believe in fair reporting, but I also believe that you shouldn’t go interview a Holocaust denier just because you’re writing a piece on World War II.


Ben Ebell can be contacted at


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