Earlier this evening I flipped by the Fox News media criticism show and noticed that they were talking about the Mark Halperin memo
posted on Drudge. I had the volume off so I didn't hear what was said. And there is a certain richness to Fox News discussing any other news organization's 'bias' when they're just a few days away from and have yet to explain why their chief political correspondent published a denigrating and fabricated story about the candidate he is supposed to be covering.
But what does this memo say, exactly?
Various right-wing barkers are trying to make it out as though Halperin has been caught in some impolitic or embarrassing remark. But quite the contrary is the case.
This is simply a news organization trying to grapple with the same reality that every respectable news outlet is now dealing with
-- how to report on the fusillade of lies the Bush campaign has decided to use against John Kerry in the final weeks of the campaign.
The plain intent of the memo is to tell ABC reporters that they should feel neither obligated nor permitted to equate the level of deceptiveness of the Kerry and Bush campaign's if and when they are in fact not
Everyone can see that they are not equal. Halperin is just saying it. And in doing so he has run smack into the epistemological relativism
that now defines the Republican party.
The most noteworthy thing I've seen in the right-wing response is that there seems to be little effort to deny or engage the question of whether the Bush campaign is being qualitatively more dishonest than the Kerry campaign. All the whining is focused on the fact that any news organization would have the temerity to try to distinguish between them.
Which gets us to a key irony of the conservative assault on the concept of journalistic objectivity and claims of media bias. Though they attack the very notion that journalistic objectivity is practiced by the mainstream (i.e., non-Fox) media, they are most often -- and certainly in this case -- its great beneficiaries in as much as the failing of the current norm of objectivity
is that it advantages liars. No surprise they'd want to maintain that advantage.