2007/07/02

Comparison-contrast

I thought this was pretty interesting:

One Reader's View

Be up-front about your political bias

Re: "Compromising a precious asset," editorial, Tuesday:
Personally I don't have a problem with journalists' giving donations to political candidates, parties and causes. Even if they don't act it sometimes, they're American citizens and are afforded the same First Amendment rights as all citizens.
All I ask is that the consumer of the news be told what the journalists' political leanings are. We conservatives aren't shocked by the study done by MSNBC. We've been preaching in the wilderness about political bias for decades. It was the journalists, of all people, trying to tell us not to believe our lying eyes. "You Republicans are just paranoid."
Ninety percent of polled Washington journalists voted for Bill Clinton? Coincidence! From Walter Cronkite to Dan Rather to Katie Couric, the bias was plain to see. Whether it's the New York Times, Time magazine, the Washington Post or The Inquirer, adjectives are selectively placed to give an impression.
While Gloria Steinam is "witty and cordial," Phyllis Shlafly is "shrill and bitter." George W. Bush provides a "huge" tax cut and a "small" increase in education spending.
Sometimes it's not what is put into a news report but what is not: The American treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib is reported, but without equal time or weight given to the treatment of Americans and Iraqi citizens by al-Qaeda sadists. "The Earth is getting warmer." So what? So are Mars, Venus and Mercury.
So give to your favorite candidates and causes, whether it's Hillary, the Green Party or NARAL, but just let us know, so we can view the news through the proper lens.
Fran Steffler
Philadelphia

My letter in response to the same piece (Not published):

Re: "Editorial | Political Donations by Journalists" Jun 26

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20070626_Editorial____Political_Donations_by_Journalists.html

As to the story that %0.03 of journalists made political contributions (144 out of 50,000 and those contributions were heavily weighted towards Democrats), I certainly agree that fairness in journalism is important, but I've never felt that journalists can or should be completely neutral.

Right now, Rudy Giuliani is trying to establish himself as a serious presidential candidate and it was revealed recently that he was kicked out of the Iraq Study Group for failing to make a single meeting. A conservative online newsmagazine, The Politico, makes a very big deal about how marvelously objective and neutral they are, yet can't seem to find room in their reports to mention this very embarrassing fact to the Giuliani campaign. The much-vaunted neutrality of The Politico is just so much hot air.

Fairness is important, but objectivity, both in fact and in theory, is a hugely overrated virtue. There is no shortcut to judging how fair a news source is. One has to follow a news source over a period of time and one has to view it from what both their friends and opponents say about them. Judging news sources by a shortcut such as employee political donations is a waste of time.
Rich Gardner

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In my view, the really telling instance is in two recent events. Media Matters commented on Ann Coulter's hour-long interview on the June 26 edition of MSNBC's Hardball over her book Godless, which was being reissued in paperback:

"Ann Coulter is not only a remarkably unpleasant person, she's a serial liar. And yet NBC's David Gregory -- among other journalists -- pretends that she has a meaningful point and makes false assertions about progressives based on her lies.
"That's why it would be folly for progressives to ignore Coulter in hopes that she goes away: because the media don't ignore her. They promote her. They parrot her false claims. It's also why progressives should not only denounce Coulter, but MSNBC and ABC and CNN and Time and every other news organization that gives her a platform and doesn't challenge her lies and repeats them as though they are true."
Now, on July 2nd, Amazon reports that the hardcover version of Godless is selling for $18.45, reduced from $27.95 and that it's sales ranking is #1,625. The recently-released A Tragic Legacy by blogger and lawyer Glenn Greenwald is at #96, well above Coulter's book. Our local paper contains nothing about Greenwald's book and he himself states that:

"Despite its continuing strong sales and widespread attention in the blogosphere, Tragic Legacy is yet to be reviewed, or even mentioned, by any major newspaper or magazine."

Yes, the media is biased, but it's a very strong rightward bias.

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