Journalists and political bias

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on March 17, 2008

Time magazine pop culture columnist James Poniewozik reveals that he's an Obama supporter. He also joins the few media people (which include yours truly) that are pushing for transparency from the media on their political biases.

The reasons not to say whom you're voting for boil down mainly to the interests of journalists, not those of readers and viewers. It would be a pain in the neck. Campaign sources would mistrust you. Radio hosts and bloggers would have a field day. Readers would become suspicious.

But more suspicious than they are already? The biggest reason to go open kimono is that the present system does what journalism should never do: it perpetuates a lie. Modern political journalism is based on the bogus concept of neutrality (that people can be steeped in campaigns yet not care who wins) and the legitimate ideal of fairness (that people can place intellectual integrity and rigor over their rooting interests). Voting and disclosing would expose the sham of neutrality—which few believe anyway—and compel opinion and news writers alike to prove, story by story, that fairness is possible anyway. Partisans, bloggers and media critics are toxically obsessed with ferreting out reporters' preferences; treating them as shameful secrets only makes matters worse.

And let's be honest about the worry that lies behind that reticence: What happens when the public finds out the press is full of Democrats? (An msnbc report last year found that of more than 100 journalists who made political donations, the vast majority gave to the Dems.) If people knew this—or knew, say, that a certain cable-news network tilted pro-Bush—would they trust us less? Hey, maybe they should. And maybe we should view their criticism as a help, not an annoyance.

The MSM's continued insistence that its political coverage is right down the middle is what is promoting the growth of partisan blogs, magazines and online communities. Readers continue to flee, and the media continues to founder.


To put Bruen in context, we've now had about as many decisions striking down laws on Second Amendment grounds in the *3 months* since Bruen as we had in the nation as a whole in the *60 years* preceding Heller, according to research from @adamwinkler in 2006.

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March 2008



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