The campaign and the media

October 28, 2008 12:40:41 PM PDT
Is the media biased in this Presidential campaign? It's a big topic of discussion these days. You hear Sarah Palin talk the most about it. John McCain has mentioned it more in terms of getting "written off" by the media and pundits.

There's no question that the media didn't do its job as thoroughly as it should have during President Bush's two terms. Don't get me started on how the best newspaper in the country helped stop debate about the war in Iraq by publishing stories about weapons of mass destruction that never existed.

So -- is the media coverage generally biased towards Barack Obama, or against McCain? No individual reporter or organization would say yes; there's no way I'd say -- because I don't believe -- that ABC or WABC has slanted its coverage one way or the other. We're trying to cover a fascinating race. And while I don't think there is really anything as true objectivity -- we ALL have our beliefs and viewpoints -- we work hard at being fair and balanced. And I say that phrase knowing that it's been co-opted by a news organization that isn't always fair and balanced.

Why in the world bring this up? Because a veteran reporter - for newspapers, magazines, and, for the past few years for ABCNews.Com as the "Silicon Insider" columnist - has raised the issue on the Internet, on the ABC News website (Click here to read it). Michael Malone, getting paid by ABC News, writes that, "the sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer."

It's an interesting read - and our job as journalists is always - ALWAYS - to ask ourselves if we're being impartial and fair in our coverage, and equally important, ask ourselves tough questions about whether we're putting aside our own biases and viewpoints in our decision-making.

I discuss this not so much to share my views on this, as to solicit yours. The people I hear from on this subject tend to be McCain supporters, complaining about coverage. In an area where one party outnumbers the other by a factor of five or six, perhaps that's not surprising. But I'd like to hear what you think about this: Is the media biased in this election? And, if so, how?

Please send me your comments (Click here). If I get something from you I'll assume you're giving me permission to use your name. Please tell me if you don't want me to use your name, when we publish your comments in this space.

We'll have the latest on the campaign for the White House, tonight at 11.

I'll also say we just finished an election night planning meeting - and we will have complete Eyewitness News coverage of the election - national, state and local - next Tuesday night on the air and on 7online.com.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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