When the street names sound the same

Don’t ask for directions from either Geoffrey Nunberg or Stanley Fish:

Nor will you get much political mileage by pointing out, as Nunberg does, that conservative pundits sometimes say journalists are inevitably subjective (when they complain that most mainstream reporters are liberals) while at other times they ridicule postmodernists and left-wing academics who question objectivity and absolute truth. Again, the observation is accurate, but it does no useful polemical work. Instead, it pays still another compliment to the ability of conservatives to play both sides of the discursive street whenever it is to their advantage.

Yes, the observation is accurate, but not only does it do no useful polemical work, it is completely irrelevant. The two positions are not contradictory, for what should be the obvious reason that journalists are not postmodernist, left-wing academics. Journalists claim to be objective but usually are not. The fact that their pretense to objectivity is false, however, does not mean that objectivity and absolute truth do not and cannot exist. Conservatives are not playing two sides of the discursive street here, the problem is that both men have mistakenly concluded that two streets with similar-sounding names are, in fact, the same street. They are not.

The irony is that postmodernists claim to be subjectivists, but whenever it is their own ox getting gored, they suddenly make appeals to objective standards and universal truths.