Thursday, June 21, 2007

No News is No News

I'm having a hard time seeing the point of this. Does it really surprise anyone to learn that Air America and NPR and "Rolling Stone" journalists give to Democratic/liberal causes? Does it impact your sense of media fairness to know that the movie critic for the "Washington Times" or a sports reporter for the Allentown "Morning Call" donates to Republicans? Gods know I'm as hard on the mainstream media as anyone out here, but I also am embedded in it, and I can tell you when an attack is just smoke. This one is just smoke.

I know some of these people personally, or have been friendly with them in past incarnations -- her, for instance -- and I can attest to the fact that whatever she may contribute to politically, it has very little chance to taint the writing she does, and that contributing to a cause hardly makes you a zealot for it. There's not a name on this list that surprises or disturbs me to see it there.

Nor does the D-to-R ratio. "125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes. Only 17 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties."

Heck, I could give you a quick lesson in that just be listing the bumper stickers in the newspaper parking garage. Journalists here march in stop-the-war marches within a 300-mile radius and show up with signs to protest President Bush. Whenever we run photographs of protersts, they have to be gone over with a magnifying glass to make sure none of the staff happens to be in them.

Media bias is a more subtle thing than this, and more complex in its causes.

And sometimes it's not. This is the kind of quote I might here sometimes in my newsroom:

"But there's a rule against murder. If someone had murdered Hitler — a journalist interviewing him had murdered him — the world would be a better place. I only feel good, as a citizen, about getting rid of George Bush, who has been the most destructive president in my lifetime. I certainly don't regret it."

That it comes from a "New Yorker" writer hardly surprises me. As another "New Yorker" writer, George Packer, put it: "My readers know my views on politics and politicians because I make no secret of them in my comments for The New Yorker and elsewhere." And the quote from the magazine's chief copy editor, a donor, is priceless: "I've never thought of myself as working for a news organization."