****Bumped and Updated****
The Daily Caller has a big, big story that confirms what so many conservatives suspected about the media’s treatment of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his association with Barack Obama: liberal and progressive journalists purposefully collaborated – plotted really – to kill the stories about Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his 20 year association with Barack Obama.
Flashback to April 2008 and to the presidential debate hosted by ABC News and moderated by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous. It was Stephanopolous who asked Obama about his relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Wright’s videos that surfaced in which he made incendiary remarks about the United States of America being a racist country and 9/11 being America’s chickens coming home to roost. The Daily Caller writes:
Watching this all at home were members of Journolist, a listserv comprised of several hundred liberal journalists, as well as like-minded professors and activists. The tough questioning from the ABC anchors left many of them outraged. “George [Stephanopoulos],” fumed Richard Kim of the Nation, is “being a disgusting little rat snake.”
Others went further. According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.
The Wright scandal was but a blip in the media’s fawning coverage of Barack Obama, which Bernie Goldberg documented and dissected in his book A Slobbering Love Affair, yet these journalists, professors, and activists were still outraged at this one episode of Obama being asked tough and important questions about his past radical associations:
In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”
Michael Tomasky, a writer for the Guardian, also tried to rally his fellow members of Journolist: “Listen folks-in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the [mainstream media] kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”
What a classic case of projection. So, journalists only “serve the people” when they shoot down any and all attempts to probe into then-candidate Obama’s past radical associations and, instead, spoon feed the “people” their personal narrative about Obama.
Objectively, reporting on Jeremiah Wright’s views and how Obama was influenced by them would actually have served the “people,” especially since the majority of the American people have watched with a growing sense frustration and anger Obama repeatedly disregard the American people’s wishes and push through his radical, big government agenda.
If these journalists actually had been objective, they wouldn’t have allowed themselves to become so emotionally attached to Obama and his candidacy. They would have seen that Reverend Wright’s anti-American and anti-Semitic rants were a legitimate news story, and would have treated it as such.
Instead, the JournoList members brainstormed ways they could influence the rest of the media’s coverage of Wright so they stayed far, far away from Rev. Wright and his relationship with Obama:
Thomas Schaller, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun as well as a political science professor, upped the ante from there. In a post with the subject header, “why don’t we use the power of this list to do something about the debate?” Schaller proposed coordinating a “smart statement expressing disgust” at the questions Gibson and Stephanopoulos had posed to Obama.
“It would create quite a stir, I bet, and be a warning against future behavior of the sort,” Schaller wrote.
Tomasky approved. “YES. A thousand times yes,” he exclaimed.
The members began collaborating on their open letter. Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones rejected an early draft, saying, “I’d say too short. In my opinion, it doesn’t go far enough in highlighting the inanity of some of [Gibson’s] and [Stephanopoulos’s] questions. And it doesn’t point out their factual inaccuracies …Our friends at Media Matters probably have tons of experience with this sort of thing, if we want their input.”
Further into the article, we learn that some journalists didn’t like defending Barack Obama from associations with Rev. Wright. Katha Pollitt said she was tired of “defending the indefensible,” a reference to how she and other feminists hated having to publicly dismiss multiple reports of Bill Clinton’s sexual harassment of other women.
Spencer Ackerman wrote in response to Pollitt that he didn’t like deflecting attention from one of Obama’s scary associations either, but essentially said the means justify the ends when it comes to preventing the Republican candidate from winning the White House:
But what I like less is being governed by racists and warmongers and criminals…What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.
Chris Hayes at the Nation advanced this argument as well:
Chris Hayes of the Nation posted on April 29, 2008, urging his colleagues to ignore Wright. Hayes directed his message to “particularly those in the ostensible mainstream media” who were members of the list.
The Wright controversy, Hayes argued, was not about Wright at all. Instead, “It has everything to do with the attempts of the right to maintain control of the country.”
Hayes castigated his fellow liberals for criticizing Wright. “All this hand wringing about just
how awful and odious Rev. Wright remarks are just keeps the hustle going.”
“Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Barack Obama’s pastor,” Hayes wrote.
The so called “objective” journalists protected Obama from his willful 20 year association with Rev. Wright in order to protect Obama’s candidacy and prevent the eeeevil Republicans from winning the presidency. Yet, we’re supposed to believe there is no anti-Republican/conservative and pro-Democrat/liberal/progressive bias permeating through the mainstream media?
Update: Some of our commenters who ascribe to the liberal point of view have have taken issue with my characterization that the journalists referenced in the quoted portions of the article are “objective,” because these writers are from liberally leaning publications such as The Nation, The Washington Independent, and Mother Jones. So I thought I’d address this issue.
Many accept that the three pubs I listed above are liberally leaning opinion publications, yet The Washington Independent and Mother Jones promote themselves as being news publications that maintain objectivity, while The Nation says that it puts a lot of effort into be as objective and hard hitting as possible.
The Baltimore Sun and the Guardian speak for themselves.
Now, let’s take a look at three of the publications I referenced in the post.
The Nation does not actively promote itself as a news source, but at the same time it doesn’t mention anything about having any kind of liberal slant. Rather, it put part of the pub’s founding prospectus on its “About and Contact” page (emphasis mine):
The Nation will not be the organ of any party, sect, or body. It will, on the contrary, make an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration, and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred.
— from The Nation’s founding prospectus, 1865
By prominently positioning this quote from the publication’s founding prospectus at the top of its About and Contact page, The Nation is making a clear commitment to its readers that its mission is to be as honest and objective as possible in its political writing. The prospectus does not use the word “reporting”; rather, its wording creates an expectation of some semblance of objectivity, which writer Chris Hayes fails to live up to, particularly when he wrote this:
Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Barack Obama’s pastor.
The Washington Independent’s tag line is “National News in Context.” Not National Opinion in Context. One could try to argue that the words “in context” is code for “in liberal/progressive context,” but no where on its home page or about page did I find the words liberal or progressive. Instead, this is how the site describes itself in its About Us page:
The Washington Independent is a news site covering national politics and policy. We seek to escape the echo chamber to place the news in context and report the untold stories that truly matter. Our integration of breaking news, in-depth reporting and insightful analysis allows us to track the latest developments while also telling a larger story.
These folks promote themselves as a trusted and independent (i.e., objective) news source.
As for MoJo, its tag line is “Smart, Fearless Journalism.” Not Smart, Fearless Opinion. Journalism. Those styles of writing are guided by two very different and universally accepted standards. Now, MoJo’s About page says this (emphasis mine):
Mother Jones is a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting. We currently have two main “platforms”: an award-winning bimonthly national magazine (circulation 240,000), and a website featuring new, original reporting 24-7. (In the past we’ve had a radio show and TV specials; theme parks are in the conceptual stage.) Why should you read or support us? Because “smart, fearless journalism” keeps people informed–“informed” being pretty much indispensable to a democracy that actually works. Because we’ve been ahead of the curve time and again. Because this is journalism not funded by or beholden to corporations. Because we bust bullshit and get results. Because we’re expanding our investigative coverage while the rest of the media are contracting. Because you can count on us to take no prisoners, cleave to no dogma, and tell it like it is. Plus we’re pretty damn fun.
Again, one could argue that the words “social justice” are a clear give away of its liberal/progressive slant; however, note how it also says it specializes in “investigative” reporting, which means the folks at this pub want their reporting to be taken seriously. Additionally, they insist that as investigative journalists, they “take no prisoners,” “cleave to no dogma,” and “tell it like it is.” That sure sounds like they’re declaring themselves to be objective journalists to me.
Using a discerning eye, one can’t help but conclude that The Washington Independent and MoJo are screaming, “we are not opinion writers!” While The Nation does not go as far as the Independent and MoJo do, they still leave the reader with an expectation that they will try to be objective.
Update II: Fred Barnes and Karl Rove respond to Ackerman’s idea that any conservative journalist who mentions Rev. Wright, mentioning Barnes and Rove by name, should be called a racist:
“I’d like to hear an explanation from those who participated in the Journolist about this,” Barnes said. “Why didn’t they quit the thing when smearing other journalists to help Barack Obama was advocated? Why didn’t they denounce the idea in unison?”
“I thought it was a revealing insight in the attitude of one minor player in the D.C. world of journalism,” Rove said of Ackerman’s comments. “It’s an even more important insight into a broader group of more prominent journalists that they seem to be willing to tolerate the suggestion that they should all tell a deliberate lie or that they should take somebody’s head and shove it through a plate glass window. I would hope that somebody would say, ‘Mr. Ackerman, do you really believe we ought to fabricate a lie about people just because we don’t agree with them?'”