Bias in the press?

While this isn’t exactly Iowa-specific or Iowa-centered, I thought it was worth noting today’s MSNBC story on the left-leaning emphasis of journalistic contributions to federal campaigns and PACs.

Marc Ambinder decides to frame the issue as “all journalists are liberals” and says it doesn’t help fight the “liberal bias” title usually assigned to the MSM by the right-wing noise machine.

I’m more inclined to agree with Matt Yglesias:

“This effort at ginning up controversy by revealing political contributions made by employees of media organizations seems fundamentally misguided. For one thing, no effort is being made to see if the people named have any ability to impact coverage of national politics. They have, for example, a former copy editor here at The Atlantic on their list, but what nefarious influence is she supposed to have had on the magazine’s coverage?”

You can find the full list of journalists and their contributions here.  A large number of the folks listed are producers, copy editors, or other senior positions in journalistic enterprises.  Clearly, personal life issues and personal politics don’t inherently have to enter the work life and the job that one person is doing.  This goes for Republicans and Democrats.

Furthermore, this kind of ‘investigative’ reporting groups the kinds of journalists writing for Bloomberg in the same category as journalists writing for a magazine like The New Yorker.  Journalism isn’t just about writing down the facts of current events and reporting them to the people, there is real investigative work and commentary that can be done–with a clear intent.  Simply put, you can consider it analysis.  Writers for The New Yorker are pretty clear about stating their intent and opinions in their pieces, which make them fundamentally different then the reporting done in a Bloomberg news piece.

Clearly, there are conflicts of interest with some of the people mentioned the in report, but is it really something pervasive among the journalistic community in this country?  I guess that’s for the consumer and the reader to decide.

And if you’re curious for an Iowa-angle, the only journalist from Iowa making the list was Des Moines Register business reporter S.P. Dinnen, who gave $250 to John Kerry in 2004.  His explanation can be found here.

Last November, right before the midterm elections, CityView also did a big cover story on bias in the media, particularly in Iowa.  They covered all angles, including print, TV, and radio.  I recommend reading the full story here as it provides great insight into the efforts of the outlets to maintain their objectivity and it also provides a good list of just who in the Iowa media is registered with which party (if any).

Finally, there is a poll in the extended entry asking if you think there is bias in Iowa’s press.

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