Saturday, July 23, 2011

Two cheers for the Huffington Post

My previous post came very close to accusing President Obama, when he warned of the possibility that the debt limit would prevent the payment of social security checks, of either deliberately lying or being culpably ignorant of the relevant facts—my only hedge being that it was possible I had myself been misinformed. One of the commenters on the post pointed out an article in the Huffington Post making essentially the same point. That such an article would appear there is worth noting, since the Post is an explicitly left wing site that one would expect to support Obama in the current controversy, where he is arguing for raising taxes in order to continue, at least to some degree, the current unusually high level of government expenditure. It's to their credit that, at least in this case, they are willing to publish the truth even when it goes against their political interest.

This reminded me of a less striking example a few years ago, when I discovered that I had a new hobby—defending Tea Party Republican candidates against stories that exaggerated how nutty they were. One of the cases involved  references to "Colorado’s Ken Buck, who says he opposes the principle of separation of church and state."

Following that up, I found a video of the speech by Buck that was pretty clearly the source for the claim. The video was on the Huffington Post, and their story, unlike the one I just quoted, gave a reasonably accurate account of what he said—not that he opposed the principle but that he thought it had been applied more broadly than it ought to have been.

I don't read the Huffington Post regularly enough to offer any more detailed opinion, but on the basis of these two cases it looks as though it may be a more honest source of news than one usually expects of an ideologically oriented publication. Which would be a good thing—it makes it at least a little easier to resolve political disagreements if the various sides are all arguing from about the same facts.


neil craig said...

We all have viewpoints and everybody but me has some biases. However the blogsphere, unlike the MSM is a 2 way street where, if you get something factually wrong, it can instantly be pointed out and equally importantly primary sources, as in the speech alluded to, can be brought into the debate.

Also everybody, even Huff-Po, has thousnads of competitors and competition does tend to keep one honest.

Hoplite0352 said...

For what it's worth, Radley Balko has recently left Reason Magazine to work for HuffPo.

John Fast said...

The Huffington Post is very diverse; it has stories written by journalists, which are relatively objective, and editorials/blogs written by pundits and celebrities, which are often biased and hate-filled rants.

Also, the editorials/blogs include a sprinkling of non-leftists.

Anonymous said...

HuffPo considers itself "progressive". It's more likely to side with Democrats than with Republicans, but often impatient with Democrats for backsliding, giving away too much at the bargaining table, etc.

For example, the average HuffPo reader probably considers Obama's health-care bill a slight improvement on the status quo ante, but is terribly disappointed that it didn't end up single-payer, or at least with a realistic public option.

It's not at all uncommon to see HuffPo articles criticizing Obama (mostly, but not entirely, from the left), just as one occasionally sees Fox News criticizing a mainstream Republican leader.