Media bias, it exists – so what?

Little Green Footballs has a post referring to thoughts from two liberal media-types at Politico. To use an analogy, they think if a football team really sucks and will be playing the best team in the league, the coverage for the big-time underdog will be negative as compared to the top team.

So, to prop up the underdog as having an even chance at winning – would in itself – be biased. The problem is this election is not a football game, and although the liberal media is not propping up McCain, they certainly are propping up Obama and Biden.

Here’s the comments from Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris from Politico.

… OK, let’s just get this over with: Yes, in the closing weeks of this election, John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting hosed in the press, and at Politico.

And, yes, based on a combined 35 years in the news business we’d take an educated guess — nothing so scientific as a Pew study — that Obama will win the votes of probably 80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election. Most political journalists we know are centrists — instinctually skeptical of ideological zealotry — but with at least a mild liberal tilt to their thinking, particularly on social issues.

So what?

Before answering the question, indulge us in noting that the subject of ideological bias in the news media is a drag. The people who care about it typically come at the issue with scalding biases of their own. Any statement journalists make on the subject can and will be used against them. So the incentive is to make bland and guarded statements. Even honest ones, meanwhile, will tend to strike partisans as evasive or self-delusional.

Here goes anyway.

There have been moments in the general election when the one-sidedness of our site — when nearly every story was some variation on how poorly McCain was doing or how well Barack Obama was faring — has made us cringe.

As it happens, McCain’s campaign is going quite poorly and Obama’s is going well. Imposing artificial balance on this reality would be a bias of its own. …

So what it comes down to is that we are smarter than you are, we know what’s going on…

The main reason is that for most journalists, professional obligations trump personal preferences. Most political reporters (investigative journalists tend to have a different psychological makeup) are temperamentally inclined to see multiple sides of a story, and being detached from their own opinions comes relatively easy.

How frequently does the alternative media have to prove the last sentence a complete lie?

1 reply
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    "So the incentive is to make bland and guarded statements."

    No, actually the incentive, or actually, the imperative, of their job is to report facts factually and without any taint, such that their opinion could never be discerned. This would completely remove any reason to complain about their biases, as they would never be seen.

    The other side of the coin involves the sin of omission: what they don't report is as biased as what they do. The LATimes' continued refusal to release the tape of Obama at a pro Palestinian function is a case in point.

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