The New Jeff Gannon


Should an anchorman advocate for a political party during a news report? And if he does, why is it suddenly acceptable?

It comes as no surprise when watchdog groups like MediaMatters erupt in outrage when the line between news and opinion is crossed. Consider, for example, the egregious case of Brit Hume introducing a report by saying, "The best possible outcome would be to eliminate the judicial filibuster, but instead a compromise was reached. Major Garrett reports."

In a similar vein, Peter Jennings shocks his viewers: "It now appears that several judicial nominees will not be given up or down votes, and that is the worst thing that could happen."

Over at CNN, Wolf Blitzer also slips partisanship into his report: "But at least the Senate has avoided the worst-case scenario: permitting all these filibusters of judicial candidates."

Such rampantly ideological phraseology by news reporters is like red meat to the MediaMatters crowd and other self-appointed watchdogs. And the only reason they have not complained is because these examples are fictional. That's why you haven't seen these quotes traveling through the internet echo chamber to all the usual suspects. Rest assured if anything remotely similar was said by a prominent (or even obscure) anchor or reporter, the din would be instantaneous.

Unless. Unless the partisanship door happened to swing the other way. Unless a so-called "reporter" who arrogantly decries "partisanship" begins his nightly news program by saying:
Bill Frist suddenly changed the name of the worst-case scenario from the nuclear option to the constitutional option.

This is a news report? It sounds more like an opinion piece, or a quote from one of those debate shows. A "nonpartisan journalist" wouldn't flat-out describe the Republican position on an issue as the worst possible scenario. Such a brazen display of ideological bent would instantly discredit a "reporter" who insists that he never takes a partisan stand. It would be like Brian Williams noting that passing a bill (or defeating it) is the worst conceivable outcome. And it's not that far removed from an anchor reporting on an election by saying, "The Democrat won. It was close, but we avoided the worst-case scenario of a Republican victory."

But there was no outcry about this anchorman pitching his tent with Harry Reid to decry Bill Frist's position as the "worst-case scenario". It has gone virtually unnoticed. And not because it is another fictional example. It is as real as the hypocritical non-response of the elite, who look the other way when the news is slanted in favor of the approved ideology. Don't expect any hilarious videos from Crooks & Liars. You'll have a long wait before Oliver Willis expresses any outrage. Salon hears no evil; MediaMatters thinks it doesn't; and if you believe the Columbia Journalism Review is going to make an issue out of this, you are sadly mistaken.

No, this is the kind of media bias that we are constantly told does not exist. And the refusal even to note it helps keep that mythology alive. So the "nonpartisan journalist" gets another pass, even as his own words expose his tendentious sectarianism.

After all, it's not like he's one of those Fox people.

posted: Fri - May 27, 2005 at 03:19 PM       j$p  send 
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