Wednesday, October 27, 2004

# Posted 1:04 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

I remain totally unimpressed by John Kerry. Outside of his opposition to the death penalty, I've never seen him demonstrate any real political courage. His baby steps in the direction of reform liberalism during the 1990s were all followed by hasty retreats. His Senate vote against the 1991 Gulf War demonstrates an instinctive aversion to the use of American force, even when it's clearly justified. Kerry's major policy proposals in this campaign range from implausible to ill-conceived. He has no real idea what to do differently in Iraq. His health-care plan costs too much to be practical and conflicts with his commitment to reducing the deficit. At a personal level, he strikes me as the kind of windbag that can only emerge when a naturally pompous and self-regarding person marinates for two decades inside the U.S. Senate. If elected, Kerry would probably be a mediocre, unloved president on the order of Jimmy Carter. And I won't have a second's regret about voting for him.
More importantly, Weisberg explains why Slate's official policy is to ask each of its staff members to explain in public whom they're voting for and why:
News organizations that, for understandable reasons, are less open about the political views of their staff may have a harder time with the challenge of being fair to both sides. Repressed politics, like repressed sexuality, tends to find an outlet of one kind or another. This may explain how Dan Rather and other conscientious journalists at 60 Minutes ended up promoting some sloppily forged documents thought to be damaging to President Bush's re-election effort. Conservatives were right to point out that an equally flawed story harmful to Kerry almost certainly would not have aired. What if CBS reporters and producers openly acknowledged that the vast majority of them prefer Kerry and the Democrats? Perhaps in openly expressing their political leanings, they would be forced to try harder to be fair to the other side, lest they be dismissed as biased.

The case most commonly made against fuller disclosure of opinion at "straight" news organizations like CBS—as opposed to journals of opinion like Slate—is that the information would be misused by media critics on the right. Movement conservatives would seize on the revelation that most journalists vote Democratic to discredit professionals who are doing their conscientious best to be fair. But wait—conservatives already dismiss the press as biased against them, on the well-supported assumption that most journalists at national news organizations are liberal. Is denying a cheap shot to critics really a good enough reason to withhold information that many news consumers would deem not only interesting, but useful and relevant?
Hat tip: Phil Carter (a Slate contributor who'll be voting for Kerry)
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments: Post a Comment