Aug 30 2008

Kudos to Politico and Yahoo

Category: election 2008,Group-think,McCain,media,Palin,politicsharmonicminer @ 2:54 pm

Here is something so rare that it’s essentially a man bites dog story. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen something quite like this in political reporting. After running a story quoting various academics and political commentators bashing Gov. Palin as “too inexperienced” to be vice-president, Yahoo/Politico actually ran this update with a response from the McCain campaign.

Update: After reading this article, the McCain campaign issued the following statement: “The authors quote four scholars attacking Gov. Palin’s fitness for the office of Vice President. Among them, David Kennedy is a maxed out Obama donor, Joel Goldstein is also an Obama donor, and Doris Kearns Goodwin has donated exclusively to Democrats this cycle. Finally, Matthew Dallek is a former speech writer for Dick Gephardt. This is not a story about scholars questioning Governor Palin’s credentials so much as partisan Democrats who would find a reason to disqualify or discount any nominee put forward by Senator McCain.”

Two things, one unremarkable, one not:

First, it’s utterly unremarkable that main-stream news outlets would quote exclusively Democratic scholars and academics, and present it as the univeral opinion of academia, and not bother to tell the reader anything about the political leanings of the academics they quote. It’s unremarkable because about 80% of academia is Democratic (90% or more in some disciplines), and it’s unremarkable because the majority of main-stream journalists really think they’re in the middle, and anyone who agrees with them must be also. It just doesn’t occur to them to ask about the political leanings of the people they quote, or to report them to their readers.

Second, what IS remarkable is that the response of the McCain campaign was even posted to the story as an update, apparently without a hint of embarrassment, on the part of the reporters or the editors, that they had left out this essential information from the story.

Of course, it doesn’t have quite the impact to report it this way: “Four academics who are Democrats are criticizing McCain’s choice of vice-presidential candidate.”

That, of course, is a non-story, of the dog bites man variety, and would not make the editorial cut.

Gotta go for that journalisitc zing, like they learned in journalism school….

But nevertheless, kudos for at least including the necessary information in the McCain campaign’s response. May we see more of this sort of thing, where the campaigns’ responses are posted right in the article.

But better yet, how about simply reporting the story completely in the first place, with all relevant facts about the presumed biases of the news-sources fully on display?

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