Journalistic Objectivity: Time to Abandon It?

By Kelley, Christopher S. | Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Journalistic Objectivity: Time to Abandon It?


Kelley, Christopher S., Phi Kappa Phi Forum


I am writing about James Mueller's article on the norm of objectivity in journalism ["Journalistic Objectivity: Time to Abandon It?" Winter/Spring 2007]. I agree that objectivity, in the end, has hurt political journalism more than it has helped, but I cannot agree with his claims about a liberal bias in the press.

Mueller makes the unsubstantiated claims that a "plethora of surveys" show that the press has a liberal bias, that the Bush campaigns of 2000 and 2004 were handicapped by this bias, and despite evidence refuting the bias claim, it makes no matter since the "audience thinks that the press is biased."

First, in his claim about the "plethora of surveys" he offers no citations, despite including fifteen footnotes to other points made in the article. Second, if Bush was handicapped in the two presidential elections by a liberal bias, how did he manage to win? It was not a political bias that mattered in those elections but rather a personal bias, and it is clear that the press traveling with Gore and Kerry did not like either candidate. And third, if the audience believes that a liberal bias exists, it is only because the press has refused to challenge the claims made by conservatives in all walks of life.

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Journalistic Objectivity: Time to Abandon It?
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