Lately I have noticed a lot of false equivalence in the media. What's crazier still is the way they are often touted as something to be proud of. As though the cliché phrase “there are two sides to every story” were a golden rule for newscasters to live by. I think that we need to push back on this idea.
In the 1800s newspapers were extremely partisan and not particularly credible. According to E.J. Dionne Jr.'s marvelous book They Only Look Dead, “Between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries American journalism went from one coherent purpose, partisanship, to another, 'objectivity'” (Dionne, 237). Newspapers before the 1900s were simply extensions of the local party apparatus that spoke to the party's base, and the profession of journalism wasn't taken too seriously.
Then, during the Progressive Era, newspapers decided that objectivity might be a better business model. By pursuing “objectivity,” the new newspaper conglomerates could sell one paper to all political persuasions, thereby boosting profits, and journalists could garner respect for their profession. Of course, this completely changed the way we think about newspapers and media, it changed our expectations for their products, and it changed journalists.