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“Both-sidesing” is a term often used in political discourse to describe a tendency in media reporting where journalists, in their effort to maintain a sense of objectivity or neutrality, present both sides of an issue without establishing a factual basis for the arguments being made by each side.

Bothsidesism assumes a middle-ground approach, sometimes providing equal weight to both sides of a story, even when one side may be objectively false or lack credible evidence.

Origin of “Both-Sidesing”

While originating from journalism, the concept has permeated broader political and social discussions, highlighting concerns over false equivalence and the dilution of truth in public debates.

The notion of “both-sidesing” is rooted in the journalistic principle of objectivity, where reporters seek to provide an unbiased perspective by showcasing multiple sides of an issue.

However, critics argue that this can lead to a false balance, particularly when the evidence overwhelmingly supports one side, or when one side’s arguments are based on misinformation or bad faith.

In such scenarios, “both-sidesing” can inadvertently legitimize fringe or debunked theories by placing them on par with fact-based information, potentially misleading audiences and muddying the waters of public discourse.

Politicians or pundits might exploit this practice to avoid accountability or to equate ethical with unethical behavior for strategic gain.

For instance, during debates on critical issues like climate change, human rights, or public health, presenting opposing arguments as equally valid, despite a consensus among experts or clear factual evidence, can hinder policy development and public understanding.

This practice not only confuses the narrative but can also delay crucial responses to pressing issues.

It also fosters an environment where public figures feel emboldened to make unfounded claims, knowing they will be reported without necessary fact-checking or context, in the media’s effort to appear unbiased.

This environment can be exploited to spread propaganda, sow division, or evade accountability.

Combating “both-sidesing” requires a commitment to rigorous fact-checking and providing context, allowing the audience to understand the weight of evidence supporting each side of an argument.

It also involves acknowledging when a consensus exists, particularly in matters of science or factual information, and being transparent about the credibility of sources.

Use of “Both-Sidesing” in a sentence

  • The news outlet was criticized for both-sidesing the climate debate, giving disproportionate airtime to skeptics despite the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.
  • In an effort to avoid both-sidesing, the moderator in the political debate rigorously fact-checked each candidate’s statements in real-time, providing viewers with immediate context and clarification.
  • The documentary faced backlash for its approach of both-sidesing, as it presented fringe theories with the same weight as established historical facts, leading to public confusion over the actual events.