Sam Donaldson was “the embodiment of liberal media bias” to many conservatives during his White House stint with ABC News, but every conservative should agree with Donaldson’s view that the press needs to be “equally vicious” to all presidents.
He made that point in an interview with Politico. “[T]he only way to save yourself as a reporter, when you’re a political reporter questioning various presidents, like Helen Thomas does, is to be equally vicious to all of them,” Donaldson said.
Donaldson didn’t always practice what he is preaching now, and while Helen Thomas has been feisty with President Obama lately, she certainly isn’t a role model for equally vicious reporting. But Donaldson is preaching journalistic truth.
Good reporters — like ABC’s current White House reporter, Jake Tapper — ask tough questions of all politicians. They don’t go soft — like Dan Froomkin did at The Washington Post — when a president more to their liking replaces one they mistrust.
In another honest assessment of media liberalism, Donaldson also acknowledged that journalists struggle to keep their own views out of their coverage.
“We all say, ‘No, we don’t let our personal opinions interfere with objective coverage, particularly of a president,’ he said. “But on the margins, I think maybe it does.”
Two perfect examples from Donaldson himself in the Politico interview: 1) “I think there’s great promise in this presidency”; and 2) “Here’s a man who, like some other presidents, came into Washington walking on water, in a figurative sense.”
Here are other noteworthy nuggets from the interview:
- “In the press room today, there might be some restraint [toward Obama] left: Who wants to be the first reporter to savage the first African-American president?”
- “To tell a reporter in advance, ‘We’ll call on you,’ I think that’s just not the way to conduct something like this. … This orchestration of the press, I think it’s dangerous.”
- “Against George Bush, this guy is an open book. But against his own standard that he preached as a candidate, they pulled back, quite clearly.”