lying in ponds
The absurdity of partisanship
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Lying in Ponds: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What's wrong with pundits being partisan? They are supposed to have have opinions!

    Lying in Ponds is trying to draw a distinction between ordinary party preference and excessive partisanship. Pundits are expected to have a bias toward one or the other party -- nowhere is it suggested that they should be perfectly balanced between the two parties. Instead, the hypothesis is that a very high partisanship index over a significant period of time suggests that a pundit is going beyond ideological bias to portray the world in a simple way -- one party as the good guys and/or the other as the bad guys. If you accept the premise that the world is more complicated than that, then a very partisan pundit is not offering a truthful or accurate picture, even if they are careful to be accurate in the particulars of their arguments. Lying in Ponds expects pundits to be independent, not neutral. Over time, any truthful and accurate pundit will be forced to take note of positive things about the other party and shortcomings in their own, and the ranking system is an imperfect attempt to measure that.

  2. How can you possibly say that George Will/Maureen Dowd/David Brooks/Richard Cohen is not partisan!?

    Easy. Go to the page which has a list of their columns for the year and look through them. Many columnists will frequently attack the other party, yet will also occasionally write entire columns which are critical of their own party or sympathetic toward the other, greatly moderating their scores. The pundits at the very top of the rankings stand out because they simply find a way to avoid substantive praise of the other party or criticism of their own, on every issue, in column after column.

  3. Why don't you evaluate the partisanship of reporters instead of columnists? Reporters are the ones who are supposed to be unbiased.

    While it would be interesting to evaluate reporters, I've decided to focus on pundits. Because of limited time, I can't even evaluate nearly as many pundits as I would like.

  4. Why don't you have all of the Wall Street Journal columnists?

    The Wall Street Journal requires a $79 annual subscription to access the full content on their website. Lying in Ponds is an extremely low budget operation, so I'm not willing to pay for a subscription, although I once asked readers to contribute toward that (they didn't). Instead, I evaluate most of the regular columnists at their free site, It includes some of the WSJ columnists but not all, and apparently includes some who do not appear in the full WSJ. As a result, I try to be clear that it is the OpinionJournal which is being evaluated here, not the full WSJ.

  5. Isn't a columnist who's always right but criticizes only one party better than one who is always wrong but attacks both parties equally?

    Well sure. The Lying in Ponds rankings are not intended to be a comprehensive evaluation of the pundits; the intention is to carefully analyze only partisanship. A columnist could theoretically be substantive and accurate and and witty and wise, yet highly partisan. I'm very skeptical about that, but anyone is free to argue that a particular columnist is partisan but good.