Curtis Houck reports on Wisconsin native Jim Vandehei:
On Tuesday morning, one of the more intriguing debates about media bias took place on MSNBC’s Morning Joe as the assembled co-hosts and Politico founder Jim Vandehei excoriated their colleagues in the media for flashing their liberal bias “in a way they never did before” in their collective desire to take down Donald Trump (to the benefit of Hillary Clinton).
Co-host Joe Scarborough made clear at the onset that opinion-based media figures as himself are different because he’s paid to opine whereas the job of a reporter for a top newspaper has been to be neutral but end up doing “the end zone dance…opining as irresponsibly as if they were like me.”
Vandehei then fired back with the disclosure that he’s typically never been a big believer in media bias, but 2016 has left him convinced otherwise:
In a way they never did before like I’ve said this before. I’ve always been a defender of the media. I think these accusations of bias are usually overdone. I think that that’s all out the door, all out the window in this campaign. I think reporters have become so biased, so partisan, particularly on Twitter.
“Go look at the Twitter feeds of the reporters from your major newspapers — The New York Times, The Washington Post, others — and tell me if those are things that they would say on TV or that would have ever been acceptable in previous campaigns….Just let the facts be out there and let people make a judgment,” Vandehei added.
Co-host and Sunday Today host Willie Geist further observed that “[s]omewhere along the line in this presidential race, a decision was made by many members of the media that Trump had to be stopped, that this couldn’t happen, that this year was different, that it was incumbent on people to stop [him]” and leaves readers shocked when they see their tweets then read their print stories.
Vandehei agreed and struck at one of the main tenets of journalism in that by espousing their liberal or anti-Trump views on Twitter, “they’re not speaking truth to power”:
They’re not saying anything that we don’t already know. Trump says everything that people need to hear and they are making their judgements on him. They’re not helping it by — by doing — it’s not just an end-zone dance, they’re doing their little shimmy and they all like slap each other on the back — “haha, you’re even wittier than I was.”
Harkening back to a time before the internet and social media, Scarborough wondered aloud to co-host and longtime Boston Globe write Mike Barnicle:
I can’t imagine what would have happened in the Boston Globe newsroom in 1985 if — some reporter, you know, that was supposed to write a straight-down-the-middle news story is doing this sort of end zone dances and again we are — please — we are all offended by what Donald Trump said.
Barnicle responded with the befuddlement that more newspaper editors don’t have stricter social media policies in an age when record numbers of Americans don’t trust the media:
Look, I am actually kinda surprised that in an age where it may be 99 percent of the people in the country thinks the media tilts left and thinks the media is biased that more editors and publishers actually don’t tell reporters, stay off Twitter, you can’t go on Twitter because all you do with Twitter is get yourself in trouble and raise these questions[.]
Geist helped wind down the discussion by making clear to the liberal diehards watching that they were supportive of the media being “tough as hell on both of these candidates” with one example being The New York Times story on Trump’s taxes.
“I think objectivity is a totally false premise and people are humans. They come with their biases, but your job is to just cover the race fairly. I don’t want to think what you hear about it on Twitter if you’re a reporter. Opinion business? Go for it,” Geist stated.