Mark Grimm


Media Bias Caught on Tape: Chalian is Tip of the Iceberg

Yahoo News fired its Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian for explosive remarks he made caught on tape. Chalian said Mitt and Ann Romney are “happy to have a party with black people drowning.” The statement came during the GOP convention while Hurricane Isaac was causing havoc.

Yahoo acted quickly to fire Chalian. Chalian later posted an apology for what he described as his “inappropriate and thoughtless joke.” That’s spin, of course. He wasn’t joking. He blurted out an honest expression of his bias. What’s really frightening is that Chalian was the political director of ABC News from 2007-2010. He essentially directed the political coverage of President Obama’s 2008 campaign. Gives you a lot of confidence in their objectivity, doesn’t it? Are we to believe no one at ABC News or Yahoo was aware of his bias? Of course, not.

Even after this disclosure, some journalists rushed to his defense. PBS’s Gwen Ifill calls him, “God’s gift to political journallism.” NY Times reporter Adam Nagourney calls him a “first-rate journalist.” You think there’s any chance they’re voting for Romney this year?

ABC News nightly newscast is so bias I really can’t watch it anymore. Across the news channels, so many reporters are mixing news with commentary, I don’t think people know the difference anymore. Journalism training used to mean seeking the truth, conveying it, and allowing the consumers to form the opinions. Those days are gone. Media bias occurs every day in America. Reporters are usually not foolish enough to get caught on tape with such over-the-top expressions of it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

The response is to get your news from as many different sources as possible and always consider the source. Ask tough questions about objectivity. Media savvy is a like a muscle. You have to exercise it to have it work at full strength.

The writer is a former TV news anchor/reporter and current media professor. He owns a firm that offers media consulting.