Accuracy in Media

Continuing the tradition that Slate magazine started in 2000 in the
pursuit of “full disclosure,” the publication tallied how its staff,
interns and contributor will vote in this election.

Barack Obama: 55
John McCain: 1
Bob Barr: 1
Not McCain: 1
Noncitizen, can’t vote: 4

“It will come as little surprise to many of our readers-and
certainly as no surprise to Sarah “Media Elite” Palin-that Barack Obama
won Slate in a landslide,” writes editor David Plotz. “In capturing 55 of our 57 votes, with 1 to McCain and 1 to Libertarian Bob Barr, Obama won an even bigger Slate majority than Al Gore in 2000 (29 of 37 votes) or John Kerry in 2004 (46 of 52 votes).”

“Like Mike and Jacob before me, I don’t think a candidate’s Slate victory reflects a bias that has corrupted the magazine during the campaign. There are obvious reasons why Slate would
lean heavily toward Obama: Most of our staff and contributors live in
extremely Democratic cities on the East and West Coast. (It’s worth
noting that our lone McCain voter, Deputy Managing Editor Rachael
Larimore, lives in Ohio.) Slate‘s voters tend to skew young, and all polls show younger voters favoring the Democrat. Also, a significant number of former Slate contributors, among them Austan Goolsbee, Jason Furman, and Phil Carter, are now advising Obama. It’s understandable that our affection for them and respect for their views may be accruing to Obama.”

Plotz’s other reason for a pro-Democrat outcome for Slate in each of
three presidential races is that journalists “naturally” vote left of
center. It is, apparently, part of their vocation.

Plotz quotes former Slate editor Michael Kinsley’s 2000 explanation:

“No doubt it is true that most journalists vote Democratic, just as
most business executives (including most media owners) vote Republican,
though neither tendency is as pronounced as their respective critics
believe. This is a natural result of the sort of people who are attracted to various careers. It is not the product of any conspiracy. There is no Liberal Central Committee drafting young liberals into
journalism against their will or blackballing young conservatives. And
there is nothing that can be done to change this disparity, unless
conservative press critics would like to see the media institute a
political quota system, favoring conservatives over better-qualified
liberals (affirmative action for opponents of affirmative action).”

But-for the millionth time!-an opinion is not a bias! The fact
that reporters tend to be liberal says nothing one way or another about
their tendency to be biased
. It does suggest that when
political bias does creep in, it is more likely to tilt liberal than
conservative. But there are so many other pressures and prejudices
built into the news-including occasional overcompensation for fear of
appearing biased-that raw political bias plays a fairly small role…”
(emphasis added).

Kinsley also says in his 2000 election editorial that “any liberal
bias in reporting is more than counterbalanced by the conservative tilt
of the commentariat. Or so I believe.”

Justifications for each employee’s vote in the 2008 election can be found here.

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