Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Death of Integrity in Journalism

Michael S. Malone is one of the nation's best-known technology writers, he has written for The Economist, Fortune Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. He was editor of Forbes ASAP and is the author of the best selling book, "Virtual Corporation." He has been in journalism for 25 years. He has been the "Silicon Insider" columnist since 2000.

In this piece he puts to words what any reasonable person can see, the extreme media bias in this presidential election for Barack Obama.

"The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game -- with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates.
The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling."

Malone is a fourth generation newspaperman and he says now he is ashamed to say what he does for a living.

I watched with disbelief as the nation's leading newspapers, many of whom I'd written for in the past, slowly let opinion pieces creep into the news section, and from there onto the front page. Personal opinions and comments that, had they appeared in my stories in 1979, would have gotten my butt kicked by the nearest copy editor, were now standard operating procedure at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and soon after in almost every small town paper in the U.S.


Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to her home state of Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the big leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play.

The few instances where I think the press has gone too far -- such as the Times reporter talking to prospective first lady Cindy McCain's daughter's MySpace friends -- can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del.

But it isn't just that they attack Palin and leave Biden alone, it's the fact that they are willing to leave what is practically an unknown new candidate for President of the United States completely alone:

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer -- when we know all about Mrs. McCain's addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden's endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

Why? Malone explains, as we all know, that the mainstream media wants Obama to win and they are willing to throw out their journalistic integrity to make sure that happens.

Malone shares my disgust and disbelief about a press that was willing to attack and investigate and smear an ordinary citizen because he dared to asked a question that they didn't like of their Presidential candidate.

The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber.

Middle America, even when they didn't agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a presidential candidate. So much for the standing up for the little man. So much for speaking truth to power. So much for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.


Read the rest of Malone's opinion of why journalists are stooping to this new low. He thinks that they see it as the only way to preserve their jobs. They believe, he says, that the Obama administration will crush the alternative media.

If this doesn't scare you, I just don't know what will. Free speech indeed.

At the end of the article is a disclaimer that is usual for opinion pieces. It says, "This is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News."

You better believe it in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News. I'm surprised they even let him write it. At least Malone wrote it while he still could.

h/t BigDog