Has journalism disappeared or is it just hiding?

A  very smart friend of mine, Rick McNair, who calls President Obama "WOW" for "walks on water", writes on his blog  that he’d give him a grade of “C” so far.  He laments a "fawning PR blitz by a media that leaves me wondering where and when journalism disappeared? Thankfully, Fox news, Rush and the internet are around to tell the other side of the story from their own biased perspective."
I asked him four essay questions on his blog. He enjoys a challenge so I expect he’ll answer, perhaps honoring Capitol Hill Blue readers with his insights.
1) How does telling opposite sides of a political "story" from biased points of view which are equally extreme and at times distorted lead to understanding of the  often complex – dare I suggest nuanced – pros and cons of any issue?
2) What is wrong with this statement: If I fully understand black, and I fully understand white, it stands to reason that I fully understand grey.
3) If partisans never hear counter-arguments because they listen only to those who support their beliefs, how are they supposed to be objective?
4) Explain how the recent Ohio State University study of viewers of The Colbert Report who are conservative have a tendency to believe he is one of them rather than a liberal relates to this.
The International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 14, No. 2, 212-231 (2009)
The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report
This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert’s political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism. Finally, a post hoc analysis revealed that perceptions of Colbert’s political opinions fully mediated the relationship between political ideology and individual-level opinion.
Even on the talking heads television shows we generally find a liberal and a conservative spokesperson debating the issues, rarely conceding points to each other, with the moderator doing little more than refereeing. 
 I haven’t sampled all the talk shows and I can’t bring myself to watch Fox, even for the sake of Capitol Hill Blue. (I’m not claiming to be a journalist.) I regularly watch the other Sunday morning network interview shows.
During the week I mostly watch MSNBC where I find that the Morning Joe crew actually comes close to putting bias aside when they debate amongst themselves.
Without resorting to hyperbole and saying that journalism has literally vanished, do you think that in the past, say, ten years, the objective reporting of politics has taken a severe hit?
Where are the best examples of objective reporting to be found?

There are few talk show hosts that can make sure their partisan guests actually hear what each other are saying. A good talk show moderator should be like a good marriage counselor.


  1. Stratocaster

    The free press became a danger to the establishment, so the establishment bought the free press. They wouldn’t want anyone thinking for themself. Can you imagine what a threat that would be to their regime?

  2. John H Kennedy Denver CO

    Our newspapers have only themselves to blame. Ever since they stopped covering what the government di not want them to cover… illegal war in Iraq, WMD Lies, Torture as a violation of US Laws…
    The papers have sealed their own fate.
    Why would anyone pay to buy a publication that refuses to fight for the people, for truth?

    Bush’s crimes need exposure and prosecution.

    Sign the Petition To Prosecute Them



  3. AustinRanter

    Whatever happened to the idea that the free press was the guardian of liberty and freedom?

    Free press, without doubt, is the most powerful vehicle to preserve truth and justice.

    However, the free press’ role in our sacred Republic appears to be rapidly diminishing.

    If the true intent of free press becomes so obscure and/or is so removed from public access because it’s content is delivered in a controlled manner and becomes a forum of biased opinion rather than reporting events as they actually occur…or…free press becomes so diluted with what now appears to be tabloid content just for the almighty buck…then our social concepts of democracy and our way of life that was created around the principles and rights contained in the Constitution is surely destined to die.

  4. woody188

    You actually only need be rich to own a newspaper business. I know of many small publications locally but only a couple actually turn a profit providing self-employment.

  5. Stratocaster

    We always glorify the past. So, now that I think about it, even in the newspaper days, the word was how can there be a free press when you have to be rich to own a newspaper.

  6. Stratocaster

    A journalist used to be a protected species. If one got roughed up; the entire media would rally and there would be so much media attention put on it that no one could stand the heat. Now, it is open season on jouralists. If you step on some toes, you end up on a corporate hit list.

  7. RichardKanePA

    Much opinion many people feel rarely gets reported because people who hold it don’t repeat it over and over again. And to me obvious facts or likelihoods missed.

    People old enough may remember when you told a restaurant etc. that one was a vegetarian. The question back was, “Do you eat fish”. Then there was a campaign to insist that fish eaters weren’t vegetarians, and the question ended. In casual conversation on abortion or gay rights sometimes casual comment was “The earlier the better” or “Straight is better than gay, but it’s better that people not be forced to be all alone”.

    Much discussion such as insisting that requiring parental notification will mean more late abortions, wouldn’t mean much without the assumption that there was something more serious about a late abortion. Opinion polls are slanted to avoid confusing sounding answers.

    Beyond this wet newspaper sticks to itself and ceramic, so no one flushes a book down a toilet. And as far as the flushing story being and old Arab folk tale. Certainly not before the spread of flush toilets. Arguments over whether a single stand of DNA, a stand of hair was planted, neglects that hats are full of hair strands, a few from people in the vicinity.

    Seeing the world divided between good and evil has something to do with having a brain with two halves, and two eyes and ears. Supposedly now there are endless dimensions, and most of the universe is dark matter and energy we can’t begin to understand —

    and almost never the conclusion that all of us have very little understanding of what is going on.

    PS before the presentation of chaos theory, quite a few scientist mathematicians began to conclude that there wasn’t enough time, for the theory of evolution to occur without outside encouragement from somewhere.

    This point disappeared into a rousing discussion whether creationism should be part of science classes. The top expoundant of chaos theory Otto Rössler who also added details to its development and nuances of insight is bent out of shape worrying whether the Hadron Collider will turn the earth into a Black Hole.

    Collider supporters usually insist that religion is directly or indirectly behind worries about the Collider’s safety. However, without chaos theory there would be a lot more religion among top scientists.

    Back to the original subject, I don’t feel guilty about watching McLaughlin Report. I really enjoy Carl Nemo’s touches of insight but got the impression that he supposedly by being meticulous he sees more than the rest. But I wouldn’t like it is I accidentally encouraged him to post less often.

    Anyway McLaughlin Report gives a quick summary of the arguments in the headlines in the previous week.



    Since no one responded yet, I will apologize for appearing to be proud of knowing what others don’t. My major frustration is seeing danger that I can’t convey to my fellow human beings. In 2003, Bush withdrew troops from Saudi Arabia, and bin Laden had to be careful not to sponsor anything that might make an adrenaline soaked US send them back. US interrogation isn’t only torturous but encourages story telling thus needs vast improvement.

    Al Qaeda is still smug that the US will bankrupt itself with ever more expensive smart weapons while al Qaeda fights on the cheep. So if Obama stops spending a fortune on Afghanistan and Iraq, al Qaeda will be desperate to attack the US domestically especially since Rush Limbaugh and Cheney are giving them assurance that Obama will be blamed for another domestic terror attack. Being at the verge of victory will put the US domestically in great danger.

    Since no one will listen. A friend watches my TV and uses my computer and enjoys the terror attack warning TV drama “24”. This is a show that Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh hope people believe about torture,

    Jack Bauer as he goes into unconsciousness from a deadly diseases, will wake up and discover that his daughter had the painful operation to give him the (I think) massive amount of bone marrow (I didn’t pay close attention) that he needed to survive.

    I hope my insights that are less important can alert people to victory over al Qaeda will likely be proceeded by a domestic terror attempt.

    I wish I knew how to look more humble knowing others also see what I don’t.


    Tall young women sometimes hunch down so as not to look strange and short one can wear high heals. People can appreciate nerds only if they make a lot of money. Can’t we somehow get on the subject of survival instead of popularity and money.

    I wish “Has journalism disappeared” could have been discussed without people responding to who may think they are smarter than others might be.


  8. griff

    During the week I watch nothing. During the weekend I watch nothing. And yet I know exactly what’s happening. Go figure.

    People don’t want to be informed, for the most part. They want to be entertained and comforted, soothed to sleep by their favorite partisan lullabye.

    They want to know that the government is is on the job and there’s nothing to worry about. Just a little rough patch is all.

    That’s the media’s job.

    “Hush now baby, baby, dont you cry.
    Mother’s gonna make all your nightmares come true.
    Mother’s gonna put all her fears into you.
    Mother’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.
    She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.
    Mama will keep baby cozy and warm.
    Ooooh baby ooooh baby oooooh baby,
    Of course mama’ll help to build the wall.” – Pink Floyd

  9. jgw

    Bias in the news? Of course! I suspect the closest you will get to none is to read the various news organization news releases on the net. Newspapers come in next but they are, for the most part going broke. The ones with staying power are the ones with a point of view (nicer than bias).

    Anybody who considers television an actual source of real news has their head stuck firmly, er, in the ground. Please remember, tv news is ENTERTAINMENT – nothing more, nothing less. I remember, at the beginning of last year’s election cycle in something like 2006, when all the majors announced that they would no longer cover the war in Iraq as people were more interested in the election so they would cover that instead. This, pretty much, defines their ‘unbiased’ reporting and “the right to know”.

    So, any arguments about news: Is it real? Is it unbiased? etc. is a nice distraction (not unlike gay marriage, the evil Mexical invasion, etc) but, when it comes to news the main question should be; “Is it entertaining?”. That’s what the providers ask (and try to provide), and, obviously, its what the public demands.

    There are lots of real reporters, doing real reporting (check out the agency reports) but, if it isn’t entertaining then its unlikely it will reach the majors. This is a simple fact…..

    Oh – writing bad things about Obama, arguably the most popular president in a VERY long time, would be neither popular NOR entertaining! Therefore…….

    Port Angeles, WA