Failure Wasn't An Option

This quote from Time magazine’s Mark Halperin is making the rounds today:

Media bias was more intense in the 2008 election than in any other national campaign in recent history, Time magazine’s Mark Halperin said Friday at the Politico/USC conference on the 2008 election.

“It’s the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war,” Halperin said at a panel of media analysts. “It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage.”


First of all, setting aside the Iraq war reference (which I sincerely doubt was an oblique reference to CNN being in the tank for Saddam), how is it a “failure”? A failure implies mistakes, details overlooked, preparations for a test not completed. This was a quite deliberate choice of the media to pick a side and aid it. And historically speaking, picking a side wasn’t even that much of a choice.

Of course, it’s not like anyone expects the legacy media to still feign objectivity, which is an affectation left over from the early days of the first radio networks of the 1920s and television networks of the late 1940s and early ’50s.

But this year’s media’s bias against McCain, Palin and the GOP in general is a carry over from the 2004 campaign, as I noted in one of my Silicon Graffiti videos:

Near the tail-end of that campaign, one journalist even wrote an internal memo to his colleagues urging them to drop the pretense of objectivity:

It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns – and our responsibilities become quite grave

I do not want to set off (sp?) and endless colloquy that none of us have time for today – nor do I want to stifle one. Please respond if you feel you can advance the discussion.

The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn’t mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides “equally” accountable when the facts don’t warrant that.


The journalist who wrote that both sides weren’t equally accountable and that the media had a duty to help Senator Kerry?

Mark Halperin, then with ABC News.


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