Here’s a great point from Powerline:
But, because virtually everyone in the CBS News organization shared Mary Mapes’s politics and objective (i.e., the election of John Kerry), skeptical questions were not asked. If there is a single overriding explanation for how a fake story, intended to influence a Presidential election through the use of forged documents, could have been promulgated by 60 Minutes, it is the lack of diversity at CBS News.
For some years now, the party line of the mainstream media has been: of course we’re pretty much all Democrats, but that doesn’t influence our news coverage. If nothing else, Rathergate should put that defense to rest once and for all.
This echoes what I said a few days ago.
As a journalist who worked at a few different newspapers, I often served as the conservative foil. Many around me wouldn’t see the problem with a story until I pointed it out. Often changes were made without too much trouble.
An example: At the Boston Herald we ran a story of a woman whose HMO wouldn’t cover a liver operation. In the story she said something like, “I can’t understand why we let these HMOs get rich while people like me suffer.” I argued that the quote was fine because she said it but that we should point out that this HMO was nonprofit. The decision might have sucked, but not so that one person or shareholder could get rich. After a fair amount of resistance, the city editor agreed to slip the fact into the story (i.e., “the nonprofit HMO…”) I’m not sure why he had to be convinced. But suffice it to say that journalists rarely suggest sticking up for HMOs.
Much talk is made of diversity in the newsroom. I fully support it. Another example: While working at the Nashua Telegraph, I supported hiring a native of Kenya as our wire editor. In addition to his exhaustive knowledge of national and world news, I believed that his cultural background would bring us some unseen benefits. A few months later, he pointed out that one of our headlines referred to a woman from Ethiopia as an African. He rightly conjectured that if she were French, we wouldn’t have called her a European. No one on the desk (including me) caught the blatant form of bias. Diversity does pay.
So why do we pretend that diversity should stop with ethnicity or gender? Political ideology should be sought just as much as other forms of diversity. A little diversity at CBS news might have prevented the whole Rathergate fiasco.
I’m not sure how we fix it. Should I put that I’m conservative on my resume? Sadly, I don’t think it’d help my chances of getting a job.