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August 17, 2004
No Cheering In The Press Box?

CQ reader (and frequent e-mailer of late) Tamsey sent over a very interesting alternate view of the UNITY conference of minority journalists, at which both George Bush and John Kerry appeared. It gives an insight into the kind of coverage that the American electorate receives for the presidential election, including a pretty good indication why the Swiftvets' specific allegations have received almost no attention, except to call the group a bunch of Republican stooges. James T. Campbell, a member of the Houston Chronicle's editorial board, describes the vastly different receptions given to both men by what are supposed to be journalistic professionals:

It was an affirming moment. Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry walks onto the stage and audience members jump to their feet and applaud with wild enthusiasm. A campaign pep rally in Boston?

No, it was the UNITY: Journalists of Color convention, a gathering of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native American journalists, recently held in Washington D.C.

As I sat there with Karen Hunter, the readers' representative for the Hartford Courant and Chronicle colleague Pete McConnell, I thought this affirms what conservatives say about the "liberal media." This was a firmly partisan crowd when it shouldn't have been. I wanted to shout "No! no! We're journalists. This is not supposed to happen" each time the crowd of journalists rose to its feet to applaud Kerry.

Even Kerry, who was basking in the glow of love like a blushing rock star, must have been taken aback by this suspension of journalistic etiquette. It crossed my mind that had Kerry whimsically ordered the crowd "to raise your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care," he likely would have received cheerful compliance. It was that surreal.

While Campbell waited for John Kerry to leap into the mosh pit of adoring fans -- er, seasoned reporters -- he found that the journalists had regained their composure by the time George Bush spoke. In fact, their reception of the President differed greatly:

In contrast, President Bush's reception was exceedingly underwhelming, if civil. Indeed, had Kerry received a like reception the previous day, we wouldn't be having this discussion. But unlike Kerry, there were no repeated interruptions of Bush's address. No sporadic chants of "Bush, Bush, Bush" from the crowd. But there was disrespectful laughter from some in the crowd when, during the question and answer session, Bush stumbled while trying to answer a question about "tribal sovereignty." Conversely, no one laughed the previous day when Kerry flailed for an answer to a question that had stumped him. The difference was remarkable, and again affirming.

Bob Steele, a senior ethics faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla., told a Baltimore Sun reporter of the display, "The key value here is professionalism. We should not allow ourselves to cross over the lights at the foot of the stage with partisan behavior."

Campbell notes that, ironically, the last panel at the convention to meet was the ethics panel, which sought the answer to the question, "Is the public right to distrust their news?" Campbell answers in the resounding affirmative.

Good for him for speaking out about this lack of objectivity from those who hold themselves out as such. However, did anyone else notice any other newspapers cover this angle from the UNITY conference? If not, then that answers the ethics panel's question far better than Campbell just did.

This is the state of the mainstream news media in America. They are not careful arbiters of the information stream, objectively reporting all the news that's fit to print. They are largely cheerleaders for the Democrats. Only a few MSM organizations dare to reveal that. Be sure to follow those outlets for your reality check on the information you receive.

UPDATE: If you want an example of how this affects the news coverage of electoral issues, look no farther than Patterico's analyis of the Los Angeles Times and its story on the Swift Boat veterans:

The article is pro-Kerry spin, pure and simple. The strategy of the article is apparent: before actually setting forth a single detail of the Swift Boat Vets' allegations, the article carefully lays the groundwork to prepare the reader to be skeptical. The article accomplishes this in multiple ways -- many of them misleading, and all of them prime examples of the fine art of slanted rhetoric.

First, the allegations are described early on as "staples of conservative talk shows and Internet sites" -- code language telling readers that the allegations need not be taken seriously.

The story then uses several misleading turns of phrase to suggest that the veterans really don't know what they're talking about, and that Kerry has been forthright about his Vietnam experience...

Read all of Patterico's excellent analysis.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 17, 2004 5:37 AM

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