"Balance" Deception

From civicintelligence
Much like a mirage at sea, balance deception can make two differently weighted arguments appear as equals.


This pattern refers to a common (and arguably very effective) journalistic practice in the United States whereby one side will be presented and then, and with equal time allotment, the "other side" will be presented. Thus a study on climate change will be endorsed by thousands and thousands of climate change scientists worldwide and then another person, perhaps a single academic in a non-related field, will point out that there is no such thing as climate change. This can lead to a situation where it appears that there are two, equally credible ways to view an issue, when in fact there may not be.

How it works

This is a useful pattern for confusing the public by suggesting that if there are two sides to an issue, then they both have equal weight. Note that this pattern is definitely not to be exercised in all cases.

This pattern is also very effective at obscuring issues because it can be be defended and justified by saying that "presenting 'both' sides" is a sound journalistic principle, thus silencing those who may realize the deception at play.


A study published by The International Journal of Press in 2011 found that fox news "discussions" on climate change were nearly 6 times more likely to be dismissive of climate change theorys than the next cable news organization. This same study also concluded that of the major cable news organizations in this study very few had even attempted to inform about the facts behind climate change. [1] Despite the wealth of information out there about climate change, cable news is chosing not to inform the public, but instead is showing "balanced" debates on the subject before any of the facts have been seen. It's like playing baseball where nobody in the crowd knows the rules exactly and has to rely on the players telling them the rules as they go along.


Media Monopolies, Silenced Voices, Professional Obfuscation,


  1. Feldman, Lauren, et al. "Climate on Cable The Nature and Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC." The International Journal of Press/Politics 17.1 (2012): 3-31.