David Frum

11.16.12

Hackery Masquerading as Journalism

Go read John Avlon's excellent dissection of partisan journalism. Money quote:

Dick Morris is a prime example of a partisan hack posing as a pollster and analyst, and as part of his mea culpa for publically predicting a landslide for Mitt Romney he essentially admitted to Sean Hannity that he was trying to create his own reality-distortion field: “There was a period of time when the Romney campaign was falling apart, people were not optimistic, nobody thought there was a chance of victory and I felt that it was my duty at that point to go out and say what I said.” This is a naked admission that his political analysis is little more than partisan propaganda —and yet what’s most striking is how dog-bites-man it seems, an acknowledgement of the obvious.

Of course, the idea we once had a perfectly objective press is naive. But we did have a newsroom culture that at least aimed for objectivity, knowing it would fall short but striving to meet that mark. The rise of partisan media on the right was predicated on the idea that unconscious liberal bias in the “mainstream media” was so pervasive it could only be balanced by explicit partisan bias. This quickly balkanizes our civic conversation, undercutting the essential idea behind my favorite quote by the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

For what it's worth, I consider myself a partisan journalist and think the idea of journalistic objectivity is silly. But facts matter, and there's a major distinction between partisanship and hackery.