Baltimore Sun Says Politicians Score Points by Attacking Media

Baltimore Sun
reporter Nick Madigan says conservative politicians have discovered they can score easy political points by attacking the media, whose journalists are merely looking for the objective truth.

Reporters have long enjoyed front-row seats as politicians hurled volleys of abuse at each other. But with increasing frequency in recent years, the journalists have become targets.

In the quest for votes and allegiances, candidates have found the press to be a useful foil, whose ostensible prejudices are preventing the airing of higher truths. In many cases, it seems, reporters themselves are blamed for whatever shortcomings they might uncover in a candidate.

Does Nick Madigan have a problem with those who attack the conservative media? Apparently not, as he cites Paul Waldman of the left-wing Media Matters as an expert.

There has long been an assumption that the media "had a special role to play" in society, given the provision in the Constitution for freedom of the press, said Paul Waldman, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, which describes itself as a progressive media watchdog group.

But if the media see themselves as the honest referee in political battles, growing numbers of politicians don't.

"This administration doesn't buy into that," Waldman said, referring to the Bush White House. "There has been a concerted effort to undermine the press."

According to Madigan, Paul Waldman is not one of those media-bashing hacks he is talking about, but instead a "senior fellow" at something that many readers would assume is a think tank.

Numerous journalism professors are cited who attack those who dare question the media's role as writers of scripture, not mere mortals with a personal viewpoint like the rest of us.

John K. Hartman, a professor of journalism at Central Michigan University, said that when a candidate believes that a particular news organization "is against him no matter what he does, then it is only logical to try to destroy the public's faith in the news organization and use it as a fundraising prop."

Why can't politicians just lie down and take it?

"Just once I would like to hear a politician state that a newspaper has a right to its coverage and commentary about him, and he accepts it without recourse," Hartman said. "It would do wonders for the notion that a public fully informed by the press is likely to make the right decisions on election day - a concept that has not been well taught in our schools for a generation."

The purpose of the article is to remind readers that the Baltimore Sun is in the right (not politically) in its public dispute with the state's Republican governor, Bob Ehrlich.

To counter what he calls the The Sun's bias against him, Ehrlich has made himself available to conservative talk shows at Baltimore's WBAL Radio, where he occasionally delivers scoops that might otherwise appear in the paper. Ehrlich also likes to remind listeners that the paper sued him when two of its journalists were denied access to him and his staff.