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America’s False Imbalance Syndrome

US media often report that a particular policy is generally considered bad or unpopular, when in reality it seeks to achieve a reasonable trade-off between competing forces or goals. There have been three recent examples of this practice that highlight the problem.

CAMBRIDGE – One obstacle to productive public debate in the United States is the media’s tendency to engage in “false imbalance” when reporting on economic policies. No, I don’t mean “false balance.” False imbalance refers instead to the temptation to disparage policies that are in fact reasonable attempts to balance competing objectives. We have recently seen examples of this in US health-care reform, as well as fiscal and monetary policy.