If a respected journalist says something controversial at a media conference filled with reporters and bloggers but no one reports it, what is one to make of that?
Mark Halperin, an editor at large for Time magazine and coauthor of the campaign field guide “The Way to Win,” was one of several speakers at yesterday’s conference on the 2008 election sponsored by Time and CNN in New York. During his panel discussion, Mr. Halperin was asked if the media had been too soft on Mr. Obama. To the surprise of the largely liberal audience, his answer was yes. He went on to say that through the subtle choice of which stories to cover and where to deploy investigative resources, the national media had handed Mr. Obama “hundreds of millions in free publicity.” He attributed the positive coverage in part to the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s candidacy. But he also noted that only a few hands had gone up in the crowded room when the audience had been asked how many had voted for George W. Bush.
He quickly tempered his remarks by noting that John McCain had similarly been the beneficiary of positive media coverage in his 2000 campaign. “It is interesting that the media’s favorite candidates in both parties both won their party’s nominations this year,” he observed. He called on reporters to look at their 2008 coverage of candidates after the election, in hopes that in the future “they do a better job treating people equally.”
Mr. Halperin’s comments were pithy, well argued and controversial. Yet, almost 24 hours after they were made, it appears none of the bloggers and reporters present for the event have chosen to report on them — perhaps providing validation for his core statement about how bias is reflected in the choice of which stories to report and which to ignore.
(h/t Scott L.)
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