Is it better or worse off knowing my biases?

I remember years ago watching Ted Koppel on TV, talking to an audience about journalism. Koppel challenged the audience to guess who he voted for President. He said no one could, with any proof. I believe the implication was that this was a good thing.

I remember thinking at the time that covering national politics for so long, Koppel must have had strong political views. So why was it better for me, and better for his objectivity, for me not to know Koppel’s political bias? And, switching things around, why would I, as a consumer of news, be worse off KNOWING Koppel’s biases? Whether I knew them or not, he would still have them. Wouldn’t more information per se better permit me to judge the news that Koppel disseminated?

Fast forward to today. We’ve had a brouhaha brewing all day in online politics land. Sam Stein sums up what happened, and concludes with something related to what I wrote above.

When he arrived at a party on the Huffington Post’s D.C. office roof-deck on Thursday evening, Washington Post reporter/blogger David Weigel felt secure in his job. Earlier in the day, the media-focused site FishbowlDC had published a series of off-the-record emails written by Weigel in which he had disparaged members of the conservative movement that he covers.

Long story short: Weigel is gone.

Undoubtedly, there were other reporters in the newsroom there that felt the exact same way as Weigel. Their fortune had been simply not putting their thoughts in an email chain, or, simply, not having their personal emails leaked. For political observers, it was a somewhat depressing reflection of the limits of the new media universe — where the traditional powers have not quite yet reached a level of comfort with journalists who are transparent with their biases but, nevertheless, fair and accurate in their reporting.

I was talking to some Youth in Government kids the other day about blogging, and I mentioned FOX News, and why, at its core, it’s bad for America. The difference between FOX and me, at least one difference, I said, is that they call themselves Fair and Balanced. I’m a partisan blogger and admit it up front. Now, in spite of that, I certainly strive to be fair, but I never strive to be balanced. I run a Demcoratic blog. I’m not here to help Republicans. But I’m still not going to lie to pursue my goals.

FOX News isn’t only here to help Republicans, they’re doing it in a way that isn’t fair, balanced, or even disclosed. Yet somehow FOX is “news” and Weigel is out. Huh.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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