Although Malone points out that there has always been bias in news reporting ("We all learn that in Reporting 101, or at least in the first few weeks working in a newsroom."), he warns that "even though there is no such thing as pure, Platonic objectivity in reporting, we are to spend our careers struggling to approach that ideal as closely as possible":
- "That means constantly challenging our own prejudices, systematically presenting opposing views and never, ever burying stories that contradict our own world views or challenge people or institutions we admire. If we can't achieve Olympian detachment, than at least we can recognize human frailty -- especially in ourselves. "
In the light of Malone's article, it is very amusing today to see the Daily Kos' negative posting on Barbara West, whose live TV interview of Joe Biden was covered by Daily AntiKos on Saturday (followed by a lively commentary from our readers). Apparently DK was not pleased that an MSM reporter stepped out of line -- the line being the liberal bias that all journalists are expected to display in their work.
Malone traces the history of the emergence of this bias in the mainstream media (MSM), starting with the "New Journalism" that grew out of the 1960s. Still, journalists were expected to understand that "this work [was] to segregated from 'real' reporting, and, at least in mainstream media, usually was."
This principle went out the window in the 1980s: "Personal opinions and comments that, had they appeared in my stories in 1979, would have gotten my butt kicked by the nearest copy editor, were now standard operating procedure at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and soon after in almost every small town paper in the U.S." The defining moment was CNN International's coverage of the war in Lebanon in 2006:
- "I sat there, first with my jaw hanging down, then actually shouting at the TV, as one field reporter after another reported the carnage of the Israeli attacks on Beirut, with almost no corresponding coverage of the Hezbollah missiles raining down on northern Israel. The reporting was so utterly and shamelessly biased that I sat there for hours watching, assuming that eventually CNNi would get around to telling the rest of the story … but it never happened."
For Malone, however, coverage of the current Presidential election campaign is a second sentinel event:
- "Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass -- no, make that shameless support -- they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press."
Malone is not a Republican shill. He is not averse to hardball coverage of Republican candidates, such as the intense scrutiny of Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin. He points out correctly, "This is the big leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play." Yet while the MSM has played hardball with McCain and Palin, it has served up big fat softballs to Obama and Biden:
- "No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del."
In particular, the MSM has failed to perform journalistic due diligence on Obama, who is "essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography." Illumination of Obama's past is not the Democratic Presidential candidate's job, it's the MSM's. "[I]t alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so."
Malone provides a list of issues and events that have been written about incompletely, not at all, or in an attempt to rationalize and explain away the story:
- Obama's drug use (compare coverage of Cindy McCain's addiction)
- Bill Ayers
- Tony Rezko
- falsified voter registrations (i.e., ACORN)
- Senator Biden's gaffes
The MSM's "Joe the Plumber" coverage ranks, for Malone, as the "absolute nadir" of the MSM's malpractice of election journalism:
- "Middle America, even when they didn't agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a presidential candidate. So much for the standing up for the little man. So much for speaking truth to power. So much for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by."
So when one television reporter dares to throw a few hardball pitches at Senator Biden (who has been playing in the "big leagues" a lot longer than Governor Palin), let's not start whining and crying. After all, the rest of the MSM is ready, willing and able to do damage control.
In Response To: Barbara West's Audition Reel For Faux News Channel