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The Dayton Daily News and a lesson in false equivalence

Today the Dayton Daily News ran with the following headline:


The story revolves around Kasich’s charge that Governor Strickland failed to do whatever was necessary to keep the jobs giant, NCR, in Dayton.

“I wonder about NCR. Why did they have to go? I don’t know why they made that decision. I know that we weren’t on it. And if they weren’t answering my calls I’d be starting to call boards of directors. I’d know the people’s names that I was meeting with. I’d show up on time for a meeting,” Kasich said.

But what particularly fascinated me was the following paragraph:

But when asked if he knew the names of all five people sitting at the Dayton Daily News meeting — including editorial page editor Ellen Belcher — Kasich admitted that he did not. And, Kasich called one writer by the wrong name three times.

Somehow, in some universe, the DDN editorial staff believes it’s just as vital for a gubernatorial candidate to know each of their names as it is for a Governor to know the person who could prevent thousands of jobs from leaving Dayton.

Even Lis Smith, Strickland’s communications director, is jumping all over this story…

The use of false equivalence coming from both the DDN board and Lis Smith is a bewildering and frustrating rhetorical tactic designed to belittle Kasich.

And it’s totally and completely irresponsible.

For those unclear of what I mean when I say “false equivalence”, equivalence is defined as such: the state or fact of being equivalent; equality in value, force, significance, etc. Falsely equivocating something encourages the perception that two situations are “equal in significance”, when in reality, they aren’t.

It’s been well documented that Strickland’s Administration was asleep at the wheel while NCR’s CEO was getting wooed with golf putters down in Atlanta by GA Gov. Sonny Perdue all the way back in the Fall of 2008.

As the New York Times states:

Mr. Nuti said that he attended a renewable energy conference in New York the month after that disastrous meeting, and during lunch sat next to Governor Strickland — who, he says, not only did not know who he was, despite his name tag, but never introduced himself.

Strickland’s excuse?

Strickland has told the Dayton Daily News that at the conference in New York he was sitting next to royalty from Spain and was focused on pitching some Ohio companies to him. He has said that had he seen Nuti’s name tag, he would have spoken to him.

Yes, Strickland really said that.

Here’s an idea, Ted. Rather than focusing on royalty, how about worrying about the guy in your backyard who’s already indicated an interest in taking thousands of jobs away from Ohio?

Yet somehow, all of these failures by Strickland to properly address the NCR situation, one with thousands of jobs on the line, is supposed to be equivalent to knowing all the names of an editorial board?

Anyone else reminded of SNL’s “Really?” sketch?

Well, there is a massive, humongous, giant difference between knowing the names of an editorial board and knowing the names of a man in control of the destinies of thousands of Ohioans.

In the world of mainstream journalism, these kind of petty gotcha games based on false equivalence are what continues to push readers away.

It’s small and it deflects from the stories that really matter to voters.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.

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