Thursday, January 03, 2008

Seen on the Evangelical Outpost

Don't accuse me of quoting too much from the Evangelical Outpost - there is much more, all worth reading. Did I hallucinate this paragraph? Better check.

The Mainstream Media Ain't So Bad -- Many bloggers (including me) have a knee-jerk reaction to the mainstream media. We "just know" they have a liberal bias and that they can't be trusted to report accurately on Republicans and conservatives. If my experience is any indication, then most of what we know is "just wrong."

My job wasn't to spin the press but to present the facts for the Huckabee campaign's side of the story. I expected that I'd have the toughest time with the professional journalists but most of the reporters that I dealt with (especially Michael Luo of the New York Times and Jonathan Martin of Politico) were quite fair and always professional. Even when their coverage was cringe-inducing I rarely could fault them for being inaccurate or putting their own biases ahead of the facts.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said of the conservative media.

My rapid response list included a broad range of journalists, pundits, and bloggers and variety of outlets--everything from The New York Times to HotAir. Often they would ask me to clarify statements made by the Governor, defend claims made by the campaign, or offer evidence on a point of contention. Almost always the mainstream media from the "liberal" outlets were more fair and balanced than were the ones from the "conservative" side of the media.

Some conservative outlets, of course, were notably fair and accurate. Although he never pulled his punches, Jim Geraghty at NRO's The Campaign Spot always let me present a rebuttal to the claims of other campaigns. The same can be said for NRO's Byron York, one of the few conservative reporter/pundits that seemed more concerned about getting the facts straight than he was in shoring up the conventional wisdom of the GOP establishment.

But while there were a few other exceptions that I could praise (e.g., Terry Eastland from The Weekly Standard, Phillip Klein and Jennifer Rubin from The American Spectator, the guys at RedState), far too many of the conservative outlets refused to present any evidence that conflicted with their typical anti-Huckabee narrative.

I even sent out personal emails to a number of prominent pundits and bloggers who had criticized Huckabee for being insufficiently conservative. I told them that if they would send me a list of their grievances I'd provide a personal response from the campaign addressing their concern. My only condition was that they would post the exchange in its entirety. Not one of them took me up on my offer.

As a campaign staffer, I found such behavior frustrating. But as a consumer of conservative media I found it infuriating. There are a number of pundits, bloggers, reporters, and radio hosts that I will never trust again to be "fair and balanced."

(To clarify my last point, let me say that I had only one expectation from my fellow conservatives: that they apply the same standard to every candidate. I had no problem with a conservative pundit bashing Governor Huckabee for raising the sales tax by a penny in Arkansas…as long as they also bashed Governor Romney for raising "fees" in Massachusetts. I had no problem with their complaints that Governor Huckabee wanted to establish diplomatic relations with Iran…as long as they hammered Mayor Giuliani for the same sin. Very few even made an attempt to be consistent in their criticism. That was what I found so disappointing.)

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