These are strange times for our beleaguered subway system. The governor who controls the MTA that runs the New York City subway claims he doesn’t have anything to do with our trainsuntil he does. The MTA chairman, Joe Lhota, is currently investigating, of all things, why an R train was held slightly longer for the mayor of New York’s photo-op. Commuters, who are punished every day now, are left to wonder why.

As delays, derailments, and all kinds of maladies plague the subways without end, much of the media has been content to swallow Governor Andrew Cuomo’s narrative of this ongoing disaster. In this telling, the imperial governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio are “feuding” over who has responsibility for the subways, and just can’t get along. Lhota, who unveiled an $800 million subway “rescue” plan, wants the city pay for half of it, something de Blasio has refused to do—in part, media reports and editorials say, because he just doesn’t like the governor and refuses to do his “fair share.”

There are exceptions to this—a concise, incisive report from NY1 laid bare the facts of the situation—but for many news outlets, false balance rules the day. The worst offenders, at least on the editorial page, might be the New York Times and Daily News. In a recent editorial called “Fixing Blame Won’t Fix the Subways,” the Times wrote that “these political leaders have engaged in unseemly nyah-nyah exchanges” and “each side has a point, but the absence of amity hurts the public.”

The Daily News, in an editorial headlined “Fair is Fare, Mr. Mayor, so help pay to fix the subway,” compared de Blasio and Cuomo to “parents squabbling over who will take a profusely bleeding child.”

Accusing de Blasio’s City Hall of being in “nyah-nyah mode” (what is it with these editorials and the phrase “nyah-nyah”?), the tabloid says “the fact that the governor is in charge doesn’t give the mayor permission to throw up his hands and walk away. That’s second-grader behavior.”

Of all the tropes of traditional journalism, creating balance where none exists might be one of the most enduring and destructive. Two sides fight over an issue and news organizations, unwilling or unafraid to follow the facts to decide which has more validity, throw their hands up and declare a pox on both houses, or simply try to equalize the playing field. He said this, she said that, you decide. The media outlet lazily lets the reader struggle to sort out the mess.

Cuomo, a master political strategist who has been governor since 2011, undoubtedly understands this approach is still endemic to most local news outlets. He knows polls are showing that more people are becoming aware that the state government effectively controls the subways and these people are beginning to blame him, cratering his poll numbers as he dreams of a 2020 presidential bid which, as of today, seems ludicrous.

How can a governor who appoints the MTA chair, a plurality of board members, and decides just about everything the state authority does turn this situation around? Shift blame, of course, and muddy the waters like the old Albany pro he is. He can deploy Lhota—who is proving to be as much a puppet of Cuomo’s as the previous pushover chairman, Tom Prendergast—to make the laughable assertion that the city, since it technically leases the subway system to the state, must be responsible for the trains and the MTA’s capital plan, even though the city has virtually no say—on the price of a fare, what projects get built and which don’t—over the system.

Following this line of illogic, Lhota wants de Blasio—once upon a time, they were opponents in a mayor’s race—to come up with half the cash for his $800 million plan to “fix” the subways. Why? Not a single independent transit expert thinks the city, through the billions it pays in taxes and tolls, doesn’t already contribute enough to a transit authority that can determine the fate of the subways without any serious input from local elected officials. The city was paying the MTA $4.8 billion in taxes, fees, and cash from the budget, according to a 2015 report from Comptroller Scott Stringer. Also included was another $5.3 billion in fares and tolls.

Perhaps de Blasio, as some sort of stratagem, can offer up the cash for the hell of it and see what little difference it makes for a subway system in dire need of many billions of dollars to overhaul an 80-year-old signaling network. But you can’t really blame the mayor for not wanting to play this game.

The “feud” narrative works when people of near-equal power squabble over something of near-equal value and validity. De Blasio deserves blame for not articulating a more tangible transportation agenda as mayor and not using his formidable bully pulpit, until very recently, to advocate for straphangers. His transportation policies—heavily-subsidized ferries that won’t make much of a difference for most commuters, a Brooklyn-Queens streetcar lacking a viable funding model or a rationale that doesn’t involve a well-connected developer getting richer—are flawed, and deserve criticism. They have been put forth, in part, because de Blasio doesn’t need the MTA’s permission to do them.

But none of that really matters right now. The city funding half or all of Lhota’s small-bore $800 million package has nothing to do with why your commute is still abysmal. It has everything to do with a governor who, in six and a half years as the state’s supreme power broker, has effectively cowed the political class into cheering him on or looking the other way as he ignored our crumbling subway infrastructure in favor of photo-op-friendly projects like a train from LaGuardia to Willets Point that few people will ride and funneling cash towards cosmetic upgrades like wifi access for almost all of the subway’s underground stations, allowing New Yorkers everywhere to scream about the MTA on Twitter while trapped beneath the earth's surface.

The subway is Cuomo’s problem. Anyone who tries to turn this into a debate amongst equals is missing the point.