By now you’ve probably all heard about the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And whatever else might eventually result, the one thing that has unquestionably come out of this law is a rather incredible amount of bad reporting. Just to pick the first ten examples I found, here are stories about his law from Associated Press, Reuters, CS Monitor, Washington Post, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, CBS, Los Angeles Times, and NY Times. If you take the time to read all of these articles (and you have my sympathy if you do), you should have little trouble spotting something that every one of these stories has in common: not one of them quotes, or has a link to, the actual text of the law.
We’re not talking about a monstrosity like the Affordable Care Act, which nobody can read without an enormous commitment of time and loss of sanity. The RFRA is about a page long and quite easy to understand. Nor was it hard for me to find. Yet the overwhelming majority of stories I’ve seen from the professional news media present only opinions about the law, without including the facts – the text itself.
Is this omission the result of massive incompetence on the part of the professional news media? From what I’ve seen in my fifty years of life, I’d rate that as a very strong possibility. But I also have to wonder, how many of those reporters are hoping their readers will simply accept the opinions of others, rather than reading the law for themselves and making up their own minds?