Accuracy in Media

In a piece this week, Vice claimed that there was an extremism problem in the U.S. armed forces — and blamed Republicans for that problem.

The piece, published this week, is headlined, “Why Republicans Are Ignoring Extremism in the Military.”

“The vast majority of U.S. service members have nothing to do with political extremism,” the article says. “But more than 160 people charged so far in the Jan. 6 insurrection had military training. And that’s just a slice of the universe of military vets involved in extremist activity. According to the VA, up to 20,000 veterans are associated with right-wing militias.”

Twenty thousand sounds like a lot. But that depends: “There are around 19 million U.S. veterans as of this year, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, representing less than 10% of the total U.S. adult population.”

So that’s 20,000 of 19 million, simple math tells us that’s 0.1%, one-tenth of one percent. Or, as we’d more probably put it, none. One-tenth of one percent is pretty close to nothing.

That’s not the point Vice is trying to make though. Republicans are bad, OK? Because there is this very small number of ex-military who are not in the Republican Party. The Republicans aren’t the same as the right-wing militias. That’s why the extremists are in the right-wing militias, not in the Republican Party. Because the extremists are more extreme than the Republican Party.

So, the Republican Party isn’t extreme enough to attract these people but it’s the Republican Party’s problem and fault because. Because what? Because this is election time.

As a website Vice ranks at No. 79 in news and media publishers in the US. But it’s a more influential organization than that. The magazine has a distribution of 900,000 copies and the TV channel reaches 60 million homes on cable.

Vice really is trying to say that because Republicans are too mainstream to attract the extremists that this is a problem with and for the Republicans. The only justification for this sort of twisted logic is that it’s an election period and Vice has decided to be party partisan rather than journalists.

Try the logic the other way. Would you be happier or more worried about the Democratic Party if there were 20,000 communists who were not members of the Democratic Party because it was too mainstream? Assuming, of course, that there actually are 20,000 communists left who have not already joined the Democratic Party.




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