03 November 2008

Media Bias In Virginia

This is suppression of speech. There are already so few conservatively inclined news outlets, once Obama signs off on a new Fairness Doctrine, even the wildly successful conservative talk radio will be lost to Democrat regulators' definitions of equal speech. And you thought this stuff only happened in Soviet Russia.

Brendan Miniter from todays WSJ Political diary on the depth and breadth of liberal media bias
This presidential campaign has seen its share of biased reporting in favor of the Democratic candidate, but two Virginia newspapers have done something that was suppose to be taboo in journalism. The Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Virginia Pilot knocked down the wall separating the newsroom from the ad department. But instead of the ad men pressuring news reporters, it was the newsroom dictating terms to the ad department.

The National Rifle Association sought to take out ads in the run-up to Election Day criticizing Barack Obama's record on guns. According to Editor & Publisher, the pro-gun ads were to run in at least three states, printed on the plastic bags in which subscribers receive their morning newspapers. One state targeted by the NRA was Virginia, which Mr. Obama hopes to poach from the Republican column tomorrow. But the Virginia Pilot rejected the ad outright, while the Times-Dispatch initially accepted it and then changed its mind.

What happened? The ad met a wall of resistance from the paper's newsroom and some in the executive suite. In a story explaining why it eventually rejected the ad, the Virginia Pilot quoted its own business development manager Alan Levenstein: "We want to make sure that we provide equity for all sides, make sure that there is a level playing field."

Huh? Issue ads aimed at influencing the political process are routinely published by newspapers. If readers might misconstrue an ad as an editorial endorsement, editors afford themselves the right print the word "advertisement" prominently on the ad. And anyone with an opposing view is free to take out their own ad or write a letter.

Thankfully, some newspapers understood the real issue here: editorial bias. The Lexington Herald-Leader told its readers that, unlike the Virginia papers, it had "decided to distribute the bag because of [the paper's] belief that free speech extends to advertising."

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.