Monday, November 01, 2004

Wheeling & Dealing

From Editor and Publisher :
Discussions at the Cleveland Plain Dealer to resolve an impasse between the paper's editorial board and its publisher about who to endorse for president have ended with a Tuesday morning editorial announcing the paper would back neither Bush nor Kerry.

"We believe our readers are perfectly capable of making an informed, rational decision by their own lights," the editorial concludes, "and we strongly urge them to do so."

The paper's editorial board, as E&P first revealed, decided last week that it wanted to endorse Sen. John Kerry, but Publisher Alex Machaskee, who has final say, prefers President George W. Bush. The paper backed Bush in 2000.

Indeed, this morning's editorial confirms, "A majority of the editorial board favored Kerry, but after long and difficult deliberations, it was decided that the better path would be to sit this one out." It does not mention Machaskee's role in this.

Just imagine the howls this would have generated if it had been a Democratic publisher trying to make his newspaper bend to his will. The Plain Dealer example is a clear case of the kind of structural bias in the media that liberals have been warning about. Even though reporters are overwhelmingly Democrats (though not "liberals", they are more economically conservative than the rest of the country and more liberal on cultural issues, or so it is said) this does not matter that much when their owners (and advertisers) do not see things the same way.


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