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December 09, 2005

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Washington Post Republican Bias Edition)

Hilzoy writes about pro-Republican bias at the Washington Post

Obsidian Wings: Media Bias Strikes Again: Chris Cillizza... at the Washington Post, wrote up a 'scorecard' on corruption scandals in politics. He said at the outset that he was going to limit himself to currently serving politicians, but stuck in Rep. Frank Ballance, who resigned in 2004.... Ballance was a Democrat. Without him, the scorecard would have included 8 Republicans and 2 Democrats.... Today... Cillizza... [wrote]:

Cillizza: This was an editorial mixup. In my original post, Ballance was not included.... After an edit, Ballance was unnecessarily included for, frankly, balance. I did not read the final edit and therefore was unaware that Ballance had been added.... I apologize for my editor's error (he's been flogged)....

OK, Media: let's take this slowly. What is journalistic objectivity? -- It is the attempt to present the facts neutrally and fairly.... Why do we care about journalistic objectivity? -- Because if journalists allow their own preconceptions to distort their presentation of the facts, then their readers cannot trust what they read.... Does journalistic objectivity require making it look as though both sides have a point? -- No. It requires presenting the facts impartially.... Isn't the attempt to make reality look evenhanded actually the antithesis of journalistic objectivity? -- Yes.... It is just as bad to create an illusion of balance where none exists as to create an illusion of one-sidedness where none exists.... If there are eight Republicans and two Democrats currently embroiled in scandals... [and] an editor decides that this is an 'imbalance' that needs to be 'corrected' by including on a list Democrats who do not meet the criteria for inclusion, s/he is basically saying... I am going to fiddle with the facts until I get things to look the way I think they should....

I'm glad Cillizza (or someone) flogged his editor, and Cillizza deserves credit for talking about this openly. Because this is just plain wrong... [for] editors want to make the Republican party look as though it has less of a corruption problem...

So who is this editor at the Washington Post?

Posted by DeLong at December 9, 2005 11:03 AM