By Manifesto Joe
In case there's still anybody out there who genuinely believes that Fox "News" is "fair and balanced" and that The Wall Street Journal is an evenhanded, objective news source, information is coming out about where and how much Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is donating to political recipients.
News Corp.'s board of directors has decided to come clean about all this and start releasing details about political donations, starting in earnest this summer. But there's already information about where these donations have been going before this. Here's a link to a related story.
What's been happening before now is not exactly shocking to those who understand what Fox, WSJ and the rest of Murdoch's "journalism" holdings have been up to. This is from the aforementioned story:
News Corp., which includes Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal among its holdings, last year contributed $US1.25 million to the Republican Governors Association, which was disclosed, and $US1 million to the US Chamber, which wasn't. The second sum was reported by Politco in October.
Such corporate donations are separate from the contributions made by a company's political action committee, which are regularly disclosed to the FEC.
Unlike their PACs, corporations can't contribute to the political parties, though they can help fund political groups such as the RGA and so-called super PACs. While super PACs can take in unlimited donations, they can't contribute directly to federal candidates. They can explicitly urge voters to support or oppose candidates.
None of this should come as a surprise to anybody with half a brain who has tried to watch Fox "News." It's clear that the complaints about bias at news outlets like CBS and PBS, dating to the Reagan era, were less based on real bias and more based on insufficient bias of the kind that meets with conservative approval.
I would concede that, during the 1980s, I saw a few things on outlets such as CBS News that seemed to me less than objective. But such moments tended to be the exception rather than the rule. When one tries to watch Fox "News" with a "straight face," intellectually speaking, one witnesses a stream of straight news heavily blended with undisguised opinion, without much in the way of labeling or transition. There, it's the rule, not the exception.
I think that perhaps it's time that journalism organizations just flat-out disposed of the principle of objectivity. The purpose of it seemed like a noble, albeit unattainable, goal during the 20th century. But when one goes back and examines the newspaper journalism of the late 19th century, there was little or no pretense of objectivity. In fact, many U.S. newspapers were called the "Republican" or the "Democrat," in plain declaration of their party preference. At least you knew beyond much doubt what you were getting when you put your nickel down at the newsstand.
Maybe it's time to dispense with any pretense. Some of the best "real" journalism around right now is being done by Truthout, a Web-based organization that exists on reader donations and makes absolutely no pretense of not being a progressive, muckraking outfit.
What is bugging conservatives so much, from what I've seen as a 33-year veteran of the news business, is that not very many of their ilk go into the field. Most people who go into journalism fit one of these descriptions: (1) People who want to write for a living, but realize that very few make a living from writing. (Yeah, you guessed it. I'm one of those fools.) There aren't very many conservatives in that group. (2) People who, like the generation who went into the field inspired by Woodward and Bernstein, and other crusading journalists who actually had a impact on history, hoped to make a difference. Not many right-wingers there, either. (3) People who wanted to be sportswriters but couldn't get a break in that area. Sorry to be so blunt, but chuckle-heads and jock-sniffers like this are where some of the conservatives in the field come from.
So, generally, the rank and file of schmucks who go into journalism tend to be center-left in their political sentiments. That shouldn't surprise anyone, any more than it should surprise anyone that most people who go into more lucrative fields like banking or accounting tend to be politically conservative.
Since there's such a tempest over politics and its seepage into journalism practices, why should any of us go on pretending? I've always done my best to be "objective" in my regular job, because that's expected of me. I work for the mainstream media, and I know who signs the checks. They expect a certain kind of product, and I try to deliver it for them.
But I've seen a gradual shift in journalism, from subtle bias toward the left, to blatant bias toward the right, with groups like AIM cracking the whip at MSM outlets until they cave and actually start showing a de facto bias toward the right.
Let's all come out of the closet, boys and girls. Then we'll see where the real bias is -- and I'd bet a fair sum of money that it isn't left-leaning.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.