According to a Los Angeles Times "Debate scorecard," the opening segment of last week's third and final Presidential debate, concerning the respective nominees plans for appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, was a "draw."
Three of the paper's pundits each proffered what at best could be described as a superficial one-paragraph explanation for their verdict: It was a "draw" because 1) an ordinarily unhinged Trump was "calm" and "sedate," and 2) by describing what they would look for in a nominee to SCOTUS, both candidates had appealed to their respective conservative Republican and liberal Democratic bases.
The "Debate scorecard" presents a classic example of what Bill Moyers derides as the "charade of fair and balanced --- by which two opposing people offer competing opinions with a host who assumes the viewer will arrive at the truth by splitting the difference" --- an unacceptable "substitute for independent analysis." Combined with the "draw" assessment, this form of irresponsible punditry lends itself to the false equivalency separately offered by FiveThirtyEight's Oliver Roeder, who suggested that both candidates were "promising an extreme candidate" to fill the vacancy left by the death of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
In truth, the differences between the two Presidential nominees are profound. They represents the difference between oligarchy (Trump) and democracy (Clinton). Trump's preference for a judiciary that would protect the privileged few at the expense of the vast majority of ordinary Americans is both extreme and unpopular. Clinton's egalitarian criteria for judicial nominations is immensely popular and decidedly mainstream. There is nothing "extreme" about a jurist who is committed to the words that appear above the entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court: "Equal Justice Under Law."
What is especially troubling is that media pundits have erected a false equivalency on an issue of vital importance to the American electorate. Outside of global climate change, which threatens the very survival of humanity, the issue of what could turn out to be as many as three lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court over the next four years is amongst the most monumental that voters will face on Nov. 8. As we previously reported the fate of democracy itself is at stake.
Roeder and the three L.A. Times pundits would have understood that if they had bothered to either consult constitutional scholars or specific issue polls before erecting their false equivalency in their respective debate analyses...