Media bias?

Douglas MacKinnon, former press secretary for Bob Dole, is concerned that the media is in the tank for the left.

Under the recent headline “Why McCain Is Getting Hosed in the Press,” Politico editors John F. Harris and Jim Vandehei opined:
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?
“So what?” Those two cavalier words alone speak to the larger problem. Who cares if “80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election” will vote for Barack Obama? Journalists, their editors, management, the candidates and the American people should care.
I think this fascination with evenness is odd. The real issue is whether the media is being truthful and giving deference to facts. If McCain is simply wrong on the issues, has repeatedly lied and attempted to make a very large election about very small-bore issues, then I think the media should be in the tank for Obama. As Campbell Brown put it (paraphrased), "If Candidate A says it's sunny and Candidate B says it's raining, a reporter should be able to go and look out a window."

To me, a bias in the media is only a problem when they begin to report false information, ignore significant issues, or focus on irrelevancies in an attempt to support their candidate. If McCain was not actually old or a survivor of multiple skin cancer surgeries, then the reports to the contrary would be an issue. If McCain was raising large, substantive issues about the negative impact of Obama's economic policies that are simply being ignored, then we would have something to talk about. The focus on Sarah Palin's clothes are actually a problem.

The thing is, I really have no sympathy for any Republicans that are pushing this bit about a media bias. If anything, the Republican Party has been the party that has most systematically attempted to abuse the media into reporting what it wants. Witness Fox News, which functioned as a giant echo chamber replaying blatantly false allegations that Obama was a terrorist, a secret Muslim (so the fuck what?), etc. Witness the McCain campaign's efforts to paint Obama as a "celebrity." Let's also note that the McCain campaign has been extremely hard on NBC for perceived bias, declining requests for interviews, etc.

What about Obama? He sat in for an interview with Papa Bear Bill O'Reilly.

In any case, the election is over tomorrow, and I will be extremely happy about that. Curious to see how this media stuff plays out.

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