I don’t expect anyone was really surprised to learn that journalists open their wallets and donate to Democrats over Republicans by a 9:1 ratio. Well sweep me off my feet. In a trade where the panacea of “objectivity” is touted…well, these polls just don’t help, do they?
But you know what? Bias isn’t an inherently bad thing. We are obviously biased around here, but we say so. Besides, journalists file stories sans opinion all the time. But the MSM is so bent on keeping the un-biased charade alive that their preventing their reporters from donating to political parties. That’s troubling:
…some major newspapers and TV networks are clamping down. They now prohibit all political activity — aside from voting — no matter whether the journalist covers baseball or proofreads the obituaries. The Times in 2003 banned all donations, with editors scouring the FEC records regularly to watch for in-house donors. In 2005, The Chicago Tribune made its policy absolute. CBS did the same last fall. And The Atlantic Monthly, where a senior editor gave $500 to the Democratic Party in 2004, says it is considering banning all donations. After MSNBC.com contacted Salon.com about donations by a reporter and a former executive editor, this week Salon banned donations for all its staff.
Again, they aren’t doing this because they don’t approve of the particular political leanings of their reporters. They just don’t like getting called on it.
As the policy at the [NY] Times puts it: “Given the ease of Internet access to public records of campaign contributors, any political giving by a Times staff member would carry a great risk of feeding a false impression that the paper is taking sides.”
Yeah, it’s pretty difficult to determine which side the NY Times favors…Bah! (OK, sorry). That’s the shell-game I’m talking about. I agree with Ed Morrissey:
Unfortunately, the reaction of these media outlets tends towards cover-up rather than openness. In that sense, they take a page from modern campaign-finance reform by trying to solve a problem through top-down suppression of political action rather than just opting for full disclosure….Why should journalists have to trade away their rights to political expression in order to work in the media? They are Americans, after all…it strips a fundamental right of political assembly and speech from a segment of American society. Regardless of how one feels about bias in the media, that approach is fundamentally wrong. Journalists should demand an end to those policies, and First Amendment activists should support them.
On the other hand, media organizations are within their rights to dictate the actions of their employees. Though it is ironic, isn’t it? Those who champion and benefit from free speech have no problem suppressing it. Then again, I suppose it’s a natural evolution from the idea–which the MSM has championed–that, somehow, campaign contributions don’t really qualify as free speech.