Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big losers this election season

When your reputation has fallen lower than both President Bush (25 percent) and the Democratic Congress (18 percent), I think there's a problem.

Former New York Times columnist and veteran newspaperman Michael Malone knows it. “I’ve begun - for the first time in my adult life - to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living,” he said.

Why? Because the percentage of Americans who rate reporters as objective and not favoring either candidate is at a dismal eight percent.

No matter who wins next week, mainstream objective journalism comes out as a big loser.

As this article points out, "journalistic integrity now ranks along side communicable diseases and nuclear mishaps." It discusses some Pew research studies documenting the marked discrepancy between reporting on the McCain and Obama campaigns:
. . . while 71 percent of Obama’s recent media coverage has been “positive” or “neutral,” almost 60 percent of McCain’s coverage over the same period has been “decidedly negative.”

And how much positive coverage did the media give McCain? Fourteen percent.

The American people have figured this out.

“By a margin of 70 percent to 9 percent,” another Pew study reported, “Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4.”

Yes, whether we like it or not, there is media bias. I don't know that it was always this way; perhaps it was. And "media" is changing. Newspaper circulations are plummetting (I wonder why?), and viewership for the classic if moribund Big 3 news programs (CBS/NBC/ABC) is abyssmally low. The internet, and in particular, the blogosphere is in part responsible, but I suspect that people are also fed up with how MSM reports the news, especially political issues. The fawning over Obama, and the rather narrowly focused Palin reporting are the latest examples.

It's getting harder to find objective, neutral journalism. What is a "journalist" anyways? Not Limbaugh, or Hannity (I doubt that they would include themselves in that tribe). Certainly not Chris Mathews or Olbermann. Does anybody really consider Bill Moyers as anything but one of the most partisan reporters around? I'm pretty sure though that he would consider himself a "Journalist" (and that is Journalist with a big J). No--I think they are better classified as commentators, or entertainers. But is there even a place for neutral reporting?

What about the Florida newscaster who got Biden all flummoxed? I think SOME of her questions were over the top, no doubt (quoting Karl Marx, for example). But I have heard the MSNBC boys threaten what they would do if Palin ever happened to appear on their show, and believe me, it makes Biden's questioning look like a pep rally.

Look at how different Charlie Gibson's questioning of Obama and Palin was. Gibson questioned Obama on June 4, just days after he had left Wright's church. So how much of the interview was devoted to this very controversial pastor and church? That's right--none. So, when Charlie interviewed Palin on September 11, how do you think things went? Pretty differently. She got grilled for reciting a prayer in her church that was credited to Abraham Lincoln. Heck, Gibson couldn't even get her original quote correct.

I don't expect our reporters to be all meek and subservient, like the Kennedy press corps. Maybe they do need to ask the tough questions. But don't you think everyone should get the same level of questioning?

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