Fake objectivity in action

Disappointing stuff from Lynn Campbell of IowaPolitics.com:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong has refused to take down his statewide radio ad, despite complaints and threats of legal action by the Iowa Democratic Party.

“We have no intention to take down the ad,” Marlys Popma, Fong’s campaign manager, told IowaPolitics.com today. “We’re very confident that everything in the ad is completely accurate.”

Fong on Monday launched the 60-second ad called “Iowa Dream” that focuses on introducing himself and outlining his story for Iowa Republicans, but also says: “We have a state government that borrowed almost a billion dollars to pay its bills.” Popma said the $830 million I-JOBS program will actually cost the state about $1.4 billion by the time it’s paid off.

Campbell goes on to quote Iowa Democratic Party chair Michael Kiernan’s statement calling the ad “materially false and misleading.” Finally, Campbell quotes Popma as saying the Fong campaign hasn’t heard directly from the Iowa Democratic Party.

This is a perfect example of bogus “objective” journalism that offers readers nothing but “he said/she said.” If Campbell has spent even 10 seconds wondering whether the state of Iowa is borrowing a billion dollars to pay its bills, you’d never know it from her story.

Yet Fong’s claim can be disproved by minute or two of online research. The I-JOBS program is funding special infrastructure projects, not line items from the budget. If Iowa were borrowing money to meet ongoing spending commitments, the state would not have a AAA bond rating, and the I-JOBS bonds would not have a AA rating.  

For whatever reason, Campbell makes this story about Republican confidence and Democratic “complaints” instead of about the accuracy of Fong’s ad.

I recommend that the folks at IowaPolitics.com read this piece by Philip Meyer on “The Next Journalism’s Objective Reporting.” Excerpt:

True objectivity is based on method, not result. Instead of implying that there is an equal amount of weight to be accorded every side, the objective investigator makes an effort to evaluate the competing viewpoints. The methods of investigation keep the reporter from being misled by his or her own desires and prejudices.

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