Veteran journalist laments lack of ethics in election coverage

Veteran journalist laments lack of ethics in election coverage

Sen. Barack Obama / Sen. John McCain
Sen. Barack Obama / Sen. John McCain


Michael Malone, a 25-year veteran journalist and technology writer, has penned an essay for ABC News lamenting what he sees as the decline of journalistic ethics and the “sheer bias” in the media favoring Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

“The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game -- with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates,” Malone wrote on ABC News.

Granting that there has always been bias in the media, he argued that contemporary journalism has blurred the lines between reporting and opinion writing.

“I watched with disbelief as the nation's leading newspapers, many of whom I'd written for in the past, slowly let opinion pieces creep into the news section, and from there onto the front page. Personal opinions and comments that, had they appeared in my stories in 1979, would have gotten my butt kicked by the nearest copy editor, were now standard operating procedure at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and soon after in almost every small town paper in the U.S.”

Malone said CNN International’s treatment of the 2005 Israel-Lebanon conflict particularly shattered his faith in journalism, claiming that the news station reported the deadly consequences of Israeli attacks on Beirut, but did not report the deadly consequences of Hezbollah’s missile attacks on northern Israel.

“But nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current presidential campaign,” he insisted.

“Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass -- no, make that shameless support -- they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press,” he continued.

While saying he does not object to tough treatment of Republican candidates, he criticized “the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket” of the Democrats.

Malone argued that the media has “systematically refused” to properly cover Sen. Obama’s background.

While the press has mentioned Cindy McCain’s drug addiction, the press has not scrutinized Obama’s past in the same way, Malone said.

“Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview?” he asked, referring to Obama’s controversial past associates. “Are all those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden's endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?”

 “It would seem that by so exposing their biases and betting everything on one candidate over another, the traditional media is trying to commit suicide,” he continued, saying that journalists would have “raced in and roughed up” the Obama campaign had their editors ordered them to do so.

The editors “are the real culprits,” Malone’s ABC News essay concluded, insinuating that editors are presiding over a “dying industry” and hope that the potential reinstatement of the “fairness doctrine” by a Democratic congress and president can save their jobs.

Malone’s comments seem to have struck a chord with readers, generating close to 1,900 comments since being published last Thursday.