Monday, August 30, 2010

Media Campaign Contributions

You may have heard the big liberal brouhaha about Fox News’ parent corporation giving one million dollars to the Republican Governors Association. Total outrage, right? Proof of right-wing bias at Fox, right? But then the outrage suddenly disappeared. In fact, the story vanished. Any guesses why? How about this. . .

When word hit the street that News Corp. had donated one million dollars to the RGA, everyone pounced. All the networks ran with the story, as did liberal bastions like the New York Times and every other liberal slag heap with journalistic pretensions. The Democrats pounced on this as well. Nathan Daschle, the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, even called on Fox News to put a disclaimer on its coverage of gubernatorial campaigns.

Daschle, by the way, is the son of rich lobbyist and former Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who couldn’t get into the Obama Administration because he hadn’t paid his taxes and because he earned five million dollars from lobbying for health care groups. Despite this, Daschle eventually ended up being hired for behind the scenes work for the Democrats on the health care issue. And now his son is in the business. . . I guess the rotten apple doesn't roll far from the barrel.

In any event, this story didn’t last. Why? Because something went wrong on the way to Outrage Avenue. Indeed, the parade took a wrong turn and found itself on Hypocrite Street instead. See, it turns out that 88% of the contributions of the employees of ABC, CBS and NBC were made to the Democratic Party. Indeed 1,160 network employees -- executives, on-air personalities, producers, reporters, editors, etc. -- gave a total of $1,020,816 to Democratic campaigns in the 2008 election cycle. By comparison, only 193 of their employees gave to Republicans ($142,863)

Hypocritical Democratic journalists? Wow, I never saw that one coming!

Also, it turns out that News Corp. gives to both parties.

So there's no story after all? Actually, there is, but it's not one they want to talk about. The real scandal here is that ANY journalist would donate to either political party. They call themselves the Fourth Estate and they claim a nearly official role as the watchdog of our government. They even have special protections under the law to allow them to perform that role, i.e. protections against slander and liable laws and the right to protect their sources. Yet, if they truly are to hold such a role, then they should be non-partisan. That means no political contributions. . . no journalists married to politicians or campaign directors for politicians (and recusals if you are). . . and no more revolving door where journalists move back and forth between the profession and Democratic campaigns and administrations.

The real story here is the scandal of the entire profession having interwoven itself with the political establishment.

And if they won’t unweave themselves, then maybe Daschle actually has a good idea (a first for his family). Maybe journalists should be required to put up a disclaimer that identifies how much money they, their producer, their writers, their editors, and anyone else who worked on the story gave to each side any time they do a political story. Journalists pushed to get such rules forced on corporations, and corporations don’t even claim to be unbiased. So if this is good for corporations, then I would say it’s more than good for journalist. In fact, I would call it necessary.

And that’s the way it is this August 30, 2010.


Patti said...

have mercy. it's saddening and sickening in one blow. notice i didn't say surprising...

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, Surprisingly, I'm not surprised that you're not surprised. :-)

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I wouldn't mind them contributing so much if they could keep their personal politics separate from their reporting. Unfortunately, "journalists" consider themselves so much more than mere reporters that they distort facts, evidence and truth to obtain their lofty and self-important goals. Too weak morally and intellectually to keep their editorials on the editorial pages, their contributions not only go to their causes, but they slant their reporting to protect their investment.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I actually do object to even the contribution. If I knew that the judge I was standing before had contributed to the other party's company, I would be pretty upset. I see the same thing here. It may not directly lead to bias, but I see it as corrosive.

LL said...

Today there are very few journalists...but there are lot of news organizations who live to MAKE NEWS rather than to report it.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, That is very true. There are very few people I would consider true journalists, but a lot of people who love spouting opinions and trying to "drive" the news.

That's why no one trusts journalists anymore.

Ed said...

I love the idea of putting a disclaimer on the bottom of the screen showing how much they gave to the Democrats they're reporting on! That would be great!

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I take your point, and I agree, largely because I don't think so-called journalists have the ability to separate their various roles in life. But I wouldn't want to take anyone's right away to support the candidate or party of his or her choice. When I was still a liberal Democrat defense attorney in Ventura County, all but one of the judges were Republicans and most were active in the party. Yet I had a very respectable trial success rate, and was first appointed to the bench by a very Republican judge, making me the only other Democrat on the bench in the whole county.

Maybe those are bygone days, but I just don't see how we can prevent honest people from supporting their parties and remain a genuine democracy. On the other hand, I don't put "journalists" in the category of "honest people."

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I think it would be great. I'll bet you they would shape up pretty quickly.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I know what you mean about restricting free speech, and I generally agree with you. I'm thinking more along the lines of "should" rather than "must." In other words, I think their code of ethics (if they still follow such a thing) and their employers should prohibit it.

I actually like the disclaimer idea. If they had to list their campaign contributions whenever they participated in a report, you can bet that they would stop giving pretty quickly. And I think the fact that they would whine about this tells us they have something to hide -- especially when they make such a big deal about other people having conflicts.

JB1000 said...

Once upon a time, the media said, "As long as we are trusted, we can inform the public."

Then the media said, "As long as we are trusted, we can influence the public."

Then the media said, "As long as we are trusted, we can control the public."

Then the media said, "As long as we are trusted, we can rule the public."

Then the public said, "Sorry guys but we stopped trusting you when you started trying to influence us."

Then the media said, "Uh oh!"

AndrewPrice said...

JB, Very nice! You should put that on a poster. It absolutely sums up the collapse of the media and their blindness to what they were doing to themselves.

Joel Farnham said...


I guess this is a case of "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks."

It used to be that most towns had two newspapers and there were two sets of competing ideas. The discerning man would buy both and read what each had to say. There was no concept of giving the whole picture. It was assumed that one paper would take one side and the other would take the opposite.

It didn't matter then and it shouldn't matter now who backed who. The decline of two newspapers started because of Television. Why read about yesterday's news when you got it today? Unfortunately, people assumed that the big three (ABC, CBS and NBC) were all different. But that was not to be, since the "government" controlled the airwaves. Fairness doctrine was brutally enforced.

Equalibrium started to reassert itself with the advent of talk radio and the removal of the fairness doctrine.

Now the big three are in sharp decline and so are the local newspapers. We get our news from so many sources that it no longer can it be slanted unless a person wishes to listen to slanted news.

This 88% just indicates to me that the MSM is still slanted and everything they say is still suspect. Nothing more, nothing less. It would have sickened me if I still was watching only the big three.

Requiring everyone to list who donated to what causes? Sounds good, but who would enforce it? Interesting article. Thanks.

AndrewPrice said...

You're welcome Joel, and excellent break down of the media!

I would add one thing to the equation. With the advent of television, the news changed the approach of reporting significantly by claiming to be impartial. Up until that time, you're right that newspapers were mostly partisan and smart people read both sides to get at the truth.

But when television came along, the media sold the idea that it was going to be an impartial provider of just the facts. I don't think this was ever fully true, but I would say that it was closer to true when they first started. Over time, they've drifted back into partisanship, but have continued to claim to be unbiased. And that's where the loss of faith has come. There are whole generations who have no knowledge of the news ever being officially partisan and have been raised to believe that the news is impartial. And they have been shocked over the past 20-30 years to see the news get more and more partisan, even as they lied about not being partisan. Hence, the loss of faith.

I have often felt that a truly non-partisan news channel would probably make a killing. But no one seems willing to try. CNN claims to have been running a nonpartisan approach lately, but they still have all the same leftist hacks who just can't help themselves from letting their partisanship show through.

As for the disclaimer, good question -- I guess we should ask Daschle? The Democrats wanted to force corporations to list it on their websites and in shareholder communications. Daschle wanted Fox to run it across the bottom of the screen. I would say that would be enough -- run it as a scroller. I would bet that the fear of appearing biased would be enough to get them to stop. And if that's true, then they know they are doing wrong.

Joel Farnham said...


I don't think, nor feel that they are doing anything wrong. I actually applaud people who back their words up with money. Now, that the big three have no more a strangle-hold on the news, nor the slanting, we, as a people, get to decide just who we want to listen to.

On November 2, 2010, we, as a people, get to vote. It is shaping up to be a repudiation of all things liberal, even with the blatant liberal bias of the MSM. If we make the gains that the polls are indicating, just what good did the media's money get them?

Your proposal, while sounding good, is just more oversight.

It is like the addition to menus of the calories. Who reads it? I certainly don't.

And I wouldn't rely on another government agency willing to put it's imprimatur on news. We HAVE ENOUGH GOVERNMENT!!! NO MORE is NEEDED!!!! Stop with the additions. Think of subtractions. That is more needed.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, My problem with the giving is that they continue to maintain that they are unbiased. I see that as fraud, just as I would if an investment advisor didn't tell me they got paid to sell me a particular investment or that they had a hidden interest in what they were selling. If they want to work for openly partisan organizations or explain their partisanship, then I agree. When I read National Review, I don't expect to get an unbiased view. But when the journalist is telling me that they are an unbiased source of news, then I think it's a lie to hide their connections to the parties they are reporting upon.

Moreover, the media actually agrees with me on this -- just not in this context. For example, whenever it comes out that a reporter is married to some company official, the media howls about bias if they don't disclose that. CNBC forbids its employees from owning stock, other than GE. Investment guys who go on television need to put up disclaimers indicating when they have a stake in the companies they are talking about. The media went wild when Consumer Reports took on a sponsor. And the media got all bent out of shape when they learned that the Pentagon was hiring journalist without the journalists putting that up as a disclaimer on all their articles.

So I think the issue of hidden bias is an important one. It's just that the left only raises this issue when it's people they don't like.

StanH said...

FOX News is the only broadcaster that even attempts balance in reporting, the big three are nothing but a propaganda arm of the administration, pitiful! As far as contributions to political party’s, not if you’re duty is to cover the very government that you support, that’s out of bounds.

Joel Farnham said...


When you say that the media actually agrees with me, I can't help but think of .... "All prostitutes agree with me....."

Sorry, I couldn't resist. :-)

An investment advisor is not exactly the same thing. If you just take the word of your investment advisor, then I think you should read a book called "Rich Dad/ Poor Dad" and it's attendent series. Pay particular attention to it's advisors sections and investments. It is eye-opening.

CNBC can require it's people to only invest in it's company as a pre-requisite to being hired. It doesn't change the fact that it is a biased news outlet despite their claims.

When a news outlet claims to be unbiased, it is like a prostitute claiming virginity. I find it hard to believe.

A part of a news organization's responsibilities is to ferret-out these attachments and expose them to us. It really hasn't lately, has it?

I get my news from the internet, noting who it is from and subtract the bias in my head. I don't even watch Fox News.

I trust the site more when it states, this is where I am coming from. This is what I think. This is what I think we should do.

To me, it is fraud when an organization doesn't state that. The big three don't. Fox news has a better claim to being unbiased, but I still don't believe they are virgins in this. Drudge Report probably has the best claim to being unbiased, yet I don't think Drudge advertises that he is unbiased.

I guess, I feel that getting virtue from a prostitute is far more likely than getting no bias from a news organization. I act accordingly. And I don't care who they support with their own money.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, In terms of the prostitutes agreeing with me, I still see it as a valid point. If the left is upset at this same issue when they see it in other people (including right-leaning journalists), then I see it as only fair that the same rule be applied to them. I also happen to think it's a good rule for the reasons stated above, i.e. the position of trust they claim to hold.

That's why my concern really is with the guys who bill themselves as unbiased. If ABC wanted to say, we admit we're left and that's what you'll get here, then I have no problems with it. But they don't -- they try to hide behind the image of journalists as unbiased. I see that as fraud.

I was just using investment advisors as an example -- it could also have been mediators, judges or even doctors being paid to recommend medication to patients. When you claim to be someone the client/public should trust because you are unbiased, then I think it's fraudulent to not reveal any interests you may have that would indicate bias. (I have no respect for investment advisors, by the way, I've seen how their industry works.)

Like you, I don't watch Fox either anymore -- it's the same facts I can get online only with a rightward opinion spin. I can add the spin myself.

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