Free Speech for Journalists

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on May 23, 2012

From a post by’s editor James Taranto (original post date 5/21/12):
Here’s a fun quiz. Read the following passage and guess if it’s a fund-raising appeal from:
(a) the Obama campaign
(b) the Democratic National Committee or
(c) a pro-Obama super PAC:

Here’s a scary thought for Democrats: It’s entirely possible that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee will outraise President Obama and the Democratic National Committee in the seven-month sprint to the general election.

Naturally, it’s a trick question. This is the lead paragraph from a Washington Post story by Chris Cillizza. Here’s the closing paragraph:

“It is entirely possible that Romney and the RNC could outraise the president and the DNC,” acknowledged Steve Rosenthal, a veteran labor strategist. “When you add to that the avalanche of money pouring into the right-wing super PACs, and the fact that polls are already showing a close race in most of the battleground states, it creates a troublesome scenario. For Democratic donors, now is the time to step up.”

Apart from the quote marks, the whole story reads like a Democratic fund-raising letter.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, had a dispatch over the weekend titled “Is GOP Trying to Sabotage Economy to Hurt Obama?” The story treated this question in an “evenhanded” manner, quoting some people answering in the affirmative and some in the negative. But the fact that the AP views this as a serious question shows its partisan bias. Can you imagine the AP running a similar story in, say, 2006 titled “Are Democrats Trying to Sabotage Iraq War to Hurt Bush?”

Now this columnist is in favor of free speech for all – – for political candidates and donors as well as journalists, for all corporations and not just ones whose business is the news. Especially in light of the news media’s increasingly brazen partisanship, it’s hard for us to imagine how we’d defend the free speech of journalists if we didn’t also do so for everyone else.