Monday, September 23, 2013
Admitting Bias (at last)
I do have to congratulate the whole Comcast-NBCUniversal conglomerate for its (almost) honesty. The (almost) part comes from the implication in the announcement that this is a new focus, with the implication that they were just another honest and impartial news agency before that. That fiction was pretty well demolished by the network's performance in the last U.S. Presidential election campaign.
One of the problems you face when addressing "bias" in news and journalism is that most people define bias in coverage as perspectives that don't match their own, rather than objectivity or fairness in coverage, so it will be interesting to see how the industry treats MSNBC's going public with it's focus/slant/bias. It will also be interesting to see if there will be a call for a now admittedly non-news channel to be denied the standard "news" exemption, so that it will be considered to be providing in-kind contributions to the Democrat Party. Democrats have tried that argument with several conservative talk radio programs recently (thankfully unsuccessfully so far - the First Amendment should protect all political speech, not just the speech you agree with). Conservatives might be tempted to try it - after all, they do tend to believe in equal treatment under the law - but shouldn't (that news exemption is really broad).
On the other hand, I'd welcome such a move, not to silence MSNBC, but as a starting point for some serious reconsideration of just how broadly we've come in expanding what is considered as "news" in terms of the exemption, and how narrowly some propose to define it in other aspects (such as in the proposed journalist shield law).
That would be a discussion worth having.
Source - The new MSNBC.com: It's 'what Progressives have been waiting for', Washington Times