Halperin at Politico/USC Conf: ‘Extreme Pro-Obama’ Press Bias
Well, duh! Once again, too little too late
Halperin at Politico/USC conf.: ‘extreme pro-Obama’ press bias
November 23, 2008
Media bias was more intense in the 2008 election than in any other national campaign in recent history, Time magazine’s Mark Halperin said Friday at the Politico/USC conference on the 2008 election.
“It’s the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war,” Halperin said at a panel of media analysts. “It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage.”
Halperin, who maintains Time’s political site “The Page,” cited two New York Times articles as examples of the divergent coverage of the two candidates.
“The example that I use, at the end of the campaign, was the two profiles that The New York Times ran of the potential first ladies,” Halperin said. “The story about Cindy McCain was vicious. It looked for every negative thing they could find about her and it case her in an extraordinarily negative light. It didn’t talk about her work, for instance, as a mother for her children, and they cherry-picked every negative thing that’s ever been written about her.”
The story about Michelle Obama, by contrast, was “like a front-page endorsement of what a great person Michelle Obama is,” according to Halperin.
The biggest bias in the press is towards effectiveness,” said Heilemann, who is authoring a book on the 2008 race along with Halperin.
“We love things that are smart.”
Because Obama’s campaign was generally so well run, he argued, the press tended to applaud even his negative tactics.
“We’ll scold you for being negative,” Heilemann said, “but if it seems to be working, the tone of your coverage becomes more positive.”
Another of Halperin’s fellow participants, Los Angeles Times writer Mark Barabak, disagreed more strongly with the Time writer’s comments. Still, Halperin’s general point met with little resistance
“I think it’s incumbent upon people in our business to make sure that we’re being fair,” he said. “The daily output was the most disparate of any campaign I’ve ever covered, by far.”