I picked up the newspaper the other day and found a short article declaring that the news media have been biased toward Obama and against McCain. The article claims that reporting was favorable to the Democrats about 2/3rds of the time and that the only relatively “equal” outlet was Fox News. Hmmm.
The article referred to a report produced by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a self-proclaimed non-partisan watchdog group. A quick look at SourceWatch and even Wikipedia shows that this is no non-partisan group. The group was founded with seed money from notable conservatives such as Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan, and receives the majority of its funding through conservative foundations.
It appears that this organization exists as an obfuscator, that is, something whose purpose is to muddy the waters and cast doubt. Unfortunately, when newspapers simply repeat reports that they receive without further examination of the source, the deed is done and the average reader will likely not look further.
Of course, this is not to say that a conservative-funded organization can’t be impartial, but this organization is certainly not open about its funding sources so that makes me suspicious. Further, it is not true that unbiased reporting would lead to a 50/50 split in positive comments on any particular topic. That might be “balanced” in a perverse sense of the word, but certainly not objective. If, after all, a network was to have Neil Armstrong on as a guest to discuss the moon landings, having a moon-landing conspiracy theorist on next to him does not necessarily create “balance”, and it is certainly not true that the objective truth of the matter must lie somewhere between those two expressions.