Is the media biased? A question that many have asked, and that probably more assume can be answered “yes” without giving it much thought. I’ve generally felt that people have many biases (I certainly do, as I wrote about here), but that strong journalistic integrity helps prevent those biases from affecting reporting as much as possible. Of course we face a world of 24-hour news cycles that fill the time with editorial, that gets confused with news, but for the most part, I think the news does a reasonably good job at staying objective (a few outlets, like FoxNews are exceptions to my view on this). WNYC’s On the Media had a great episode about liberal bias in NPR news (click here). This story, and many other analyses, left me pretty firmly convinced that the charges of media bias are largely overstated (again, this does not include “news” outlets and websites that have a clear agenda). This election cycle has caused me to question my view.
This challenge is mostly coming from the increased time I’m spending on Twitter. I’ve had a twitter account for a while now, but haven’t used it much until this year, keeping most of my social networking on FaceBook. Twitter has grown on me, and I’m now hooked. FaceBook feels slow now, but the tweets scroll faster than I can keep up with them. As much as I like what I’m seeing, and as much as I agree with the things I see, I’m shocked by the things that some well-respected journalists post on Twitter. I don’t want to name names, but I think some examples make the case best. Kurt Eichenwald is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and writes for Newsweek and the New York Times. He is not an opinion writer, he writes what I consider standard journalism. Objectivity is critical. But outside of his published writings, he is very active on Twitter, and doesn’t even try to hide his hatred of Donald Trump.
Here’s an example:
He has posted extensively about Trump, and none of it is positive. He’s not the only one. Josh Marshall, who I consider to be a bit less “journalism” and a bit more “opinion” has been on overdrive, attacking Trump over and over and over. John Harwood, Katy Tur, Sopan Deb…these are reporters, but on Twitter, they are so clearly anti-Trump, that it makes it hard to believe that they can set that aside and remain objective in their reporting.
But is this normal? I don’t know. I wasn’t following these people during the 2008 or 2012 elections. Is this a reaction to an extreme candidate, or is this just business as usual. Am I starting to agree with Trump that there is a coordinated attempt to make him look bad by the media? I wouldn’t go that far, but it does make me more sympathetic to his complaints. Just a little.