Matt Taibbi: All Journalism is Advocacy Journalism
Matt Taibbi is a left-wing writer from Rolling Stone. Today he writes in response to accusations that Glenn Greenwald is an advocacy journalist whose work is therefore suspect. It's a long piece but here are a few highlights. And no I don't mean that ironically:
To pretend there's such a thing as journalism without advocacy is just
silly; nobody in this business really takes that concept seriously.
"Objectivity" is a fairy tale invented purely for the consumption of the
credulous public, sort of like the Santa Claus myth. Obviously,
journalists can strive to be balanced and objective, but that's all it
Please, tell us more about people in the business who don't believe in objectivity. Of course many of us on the right assume that is the case but give us details. Of course, Taibbi's purpose is to defend Greenwald and, given his own outlook, all of his examples of media bias are seen from the left. Nevertheless he makes some good points. Here he is responding to a piece published in the Post:
We should be skeptical of reporters who are advocates, because they might be pulling punches to advance a cause?
Well . . . that's true. But only if we're talking about all
reporters, because all reporters are advocates. If we're only talking
about people like Glenn Greenwald, who are open about their advocacy,
that's a crazy thing to say. People should be skeptical of everything
they read. In fact, people should be more skeptical of reporters who claim not to be advocates, because those people are almost always lying, whether they know it or not.
I don't think I've ever agreed with anything Matt Taibbi has said about anything but in this case he's right. The claim of media neutrality is a pernicious lie used against people who don't share the liberal media's presuppositions.
We've seen that again this week in the fawning over State Sen. Wendy Davis and the failure to mention that she represents a minority of voters and of women even as reporters are busy complimenting her shoes. Liberal journalists, disguised behind the banner of the AP or NBC or ABC, are once again serving the interests of the abortion industry in their selective presentation of facts.
And you can trace that kind of media bias all the way back to the godfather of modern journalism, Walter Cronkite. He was, as a recent biography revealed, a liberal partisan who concealed his views from the public so as to better service his ideology. It would have been nice if everyone had been made aware of that while he was still alive, or better yet, while he was still broadcasting.
Conservative new media exists to combat the consistent and predictable blind spots in the traditional, left-leaning media. To invalidate a journalist solely because he has a left-wing agenda undercuts the basis for all such efforts on the right and the left. The better approach is the one that weighs the source but does not disregard the story so long as it appears to be true.