Where bias and cluelessness intersect

MSNBC features a report on the campaign contributions by MSM journalists. The report is based on the public records of the Federal Election Commission. I doubt anyone will be surprised to learn that of the 144 journalists who made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign, 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes.
Some MSM outlets, including the New York Times, have responded to this longstanding phenomenon by barring reporters and editors (or in some cases all writers) from making these sorts of contributions. This strikes me as the worst of all possible worlds. First, journalists should be free to make political contributions as they fit. Second, a ban does not reduce the ideological bent reflected by the contributions; it merely removes some of the evidence. In the words of the New York Times, “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.” (Emphasis added).
As this quotation reminds us, the MSM steadfastly insists that the high percentage of liberal Democrats in its ranks does not constitute evidence that it is “taking sides.” It is possible, of course, for an individual journalist to keep a strong ideological bias out of his or her reporting. But the notion that the press corps as a whole can accomplish this would be fanciful even if it were not contradicted on a daily basis by its work product.
The MSNBC piece confirms just how fanciful. It notes that “The Ethicist” at the New York Times equates the degree of ideological fervor reflected in his contribution to MoveOn.org with that of coaching Little League, donating to the Boy Scouts, or joining the Catholic Church. Journalists this clueless couldn’t keep their bias out of a story even if they wanted to.
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