Political Zealotry in the Media

Tim Bean



It’s no big secret that I harbor a certain disdain for the media.  I have mentioned here several times my lamentations over the fact that the media has long since abandoned any sort of objectivity when it comes to how it treats damn near anything; in particular politics, and politicians.

We all know that MSNBC is simply the Democrat’s mouthpiece, and that Fox News is the Republican’s mouthpiece.  What’s utterly baffling to me though is how both of those “news” outlets balk at anyone who dares to point out these networks definite biases, or they will simply cut that person off, and say, “Okay, we’ve run out of time and have to go.”  In the process of them defending themselves they will throw the other network under the bus as the one which is full of bias, but most certainly not them.  Oh no, they (whichever one is on the defensive) are the network which is spreading the truth, and setting the record straight.  Yeah, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Now I have also said multiple times that when it comes to each of our personal biases it is next to impossible to fully divorce us from them.  We carry them with us wherever we go, and they will creep into even the most objective journalist’s writing.  The problem though is that a journalist should be in the businesses of reportage.  Unfortunately though, there are too few journalists these days, and too many editorialists.  A journalist should be reporting the facts.  However an editorialist expresses and presents their opinion as fact.  You know what they say about opinions – everyone has one; and by insisting that yours is better than every other persons only makes you an asshole – but that’s just my opinion; I could be wrong.

Now, going back to a lack of any attempt at journalistic objectivity and the obvious slant and bias that appears in many media outlets, a recent entry on Reason.com’s blog, Hit & Run, highlights just how some who purport to be journalists are all snug in bed with their favorite politician(s) – in this case President Obama.

The basis for that blog entry comes from a December 2nd article on Politico entitled “Left Wing Media Has ‘Issues’ with President Obama,” and as this article reports, and the Reason.com entry editorializes, there are some (Hendrik Hertzberg) who have come right out and say that now that President Obama has won reelection they can now start asking President Obama the hard questions, and be more critical of him … Um, okay, thanks there folks for making sure that your chosen profession (journalism) maintains its position as the “Forth Estate/House” of government.  Your job is not to be silent for fear that asking those tough questions, or being even a little critical might cost a politician their reelection bid.  Your job is to ask those tough questions, expose fallacies, be critical of errors and failures, and hold ALL of our politicians accountable – regardless of whether doing these things might hurt your favorite politicians’ chances of winning reelection.  Willful blindness is complicit guilt, and zealotry.

Very few people really like zealots.  They cannot be reasoned with because of their blind allegiance to whatever they have such zeal for.  We all have a friend who has their favorite sports team, and they simply think that team hung the moon – particularly when that team is winning.  I have friend who is a Notre Dame alum and carrying on a conversation with him about his alma mater this year is torturous, due to his over the top zeal for his team being #1 and playing for the National Championship.  He cannot, and will not acknowledge, or recognize any faults with his beloved Fighting Irish and refuses to even allow for the possibility that Alabama could, quite possibly, win that game.

That’s college football though, and the blind zealotry of fandom for some comes with the territory; most of it is harmless, and none of it really affects the governance of our country.  Being a political zealot though is another thing.  Being blind to your favorite party’s errors, misdeeds, mistakes, and stances on issues that you feel are wrong, simply because it might hurt someone’s chances at getting elected should make you feel dirty; particularly when your job is to report on government.  Having such an allegiance to a political party over your own individual beliefs, your professional duties, and even over the country you live in is not healthy for either you, or your country – though it probably does help the party to have a nice little devoted zombie in their ranks.


Conversion and zealotry, just like revelation and apostasy, are flip sides of the same coin, the currency of a political culture having more in common with religion than rational discourse.  (Norman G. Finkelstein)

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