On Thursday, Politico published a newsletter written by popular right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro, in which he discussed “the real reason most Republicans opposed impeachment.”
It’s safe to assume that few people who work for or read Politico agree with Shapiro on much, so it was admirable that the outlet attempted to present an alternative point of view to their audience. The media is supposed to be unbiased, after all.
But instead of being applauded, Politico was instead attacked online by a wave of angry left-wing pundits and journalists.
Matt Negrin, an MSNBC host and former Politico employee, posted a furious Twitter thread about the transgression, saying, “I got my start at @politico. I would quit on the spot today. Handing their newsletter to a proudly bad-faith Republican to spread pure [s***] is the grossest thing I’ve seen happen there.”
Vox’s Aaron Rupar tweeted: “I understand the desire to have balance, but lying about stuff like Ben Shapiro does in this column (comparing Bernie Sanders to Trump, equivocating Trump’s voter fraud lies with Stacey Abrams) isn’t really a “side” that needs to be platformed.” Evidently, Rupar is all good with balance, as long the opinions being promoted are in line with his own.
I understand the desire to have balance, but lying about stuff like Ben Shapiro does in this column (comparing Bernie Sanders to Trump, equivocating Trump's voter fraud lies with Stacey Abrams) isn't really a "side" that needs to be platformed https://t.co/xfiH4TkIKX
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 14, 2021
This Politico backlash echoes a similar incident that occurred over the summer, when the New York Times published an opinion piece by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) titled, “Send in the Troops.” In the piece, Cotton argued that federal troops should be sent in to deal with the mass rioting and violence around the country that occurred in response to the killing of George Floyd.
The backlash that the New York Times faced for having the audacity to print an opinion column by a sitting Republican senator was fast and furious. The Times’ Editorial page editor, James Bennet, was forced to resign over the drama.
Never mind that this was the same New York Times that printed an opinion column by a senior Taliban leader. Evidently, that is OK, but publishing Republican opinions? That’s just a bridge too far.
So will Politico cave to the assault over their decision to publish Ben Shapiro and plead mea culpa? Let’s hope not. But the precedent set by their peers does not bode well for the future of unbiased media coverage.