Feature:Opinion

‘Objective’ journalism and mainstream media games

Jedediah Bila Contributor

When I was sixteen years old, I had a memorable conversation with a friend about what we wanted to be when we got older. I — in my typical state of indecision — rambled off a slew of completely unrelated job possibilities. I’m pretty sure one was an acrobat.

My friend, on the other hand, had tunnel vision. She wanted to be a journalist. She had so much passion for the field, mostly because she saw it as a way to dig through the nonsense and deliver the facts. She had an intrinsic hunger for research and a genuine commitment to objectivity.

She never did follow that career path. I can’t say why for sure, but perhaps life presented her with some unexpected doors, inspiring her to close others. I have to admit that I often wish she had pursued her original passion. In a field where so many “objective” journalists report fiction — not facts — in order to comply with their ideologies, and so many others revere sensationalism above all else, truly objective journalists with a commitment to research and fair reporting are quite hard to come by.

The 2008 presidential election was quite eye-opening for me. Never before had I witnessed such a profound lack of objectivity in reporting, such an obvious effort by so many to tear one woman down in order to build their hero up. No candidate is perfect, and by virtue of their humanity, each and every one will make mistakes. But if you distort the record of a candidate in order to boost up his or her opponent, if you fail to do your research, if you warp the accomplishments of a candidate in order to sway public opinion, and if you refuse to correct inaccuracies in your reporting because it serves your own ideological purpose not to correct them … then you have done an enormous disservice to the public and to journalism at large.

Many in the mainstream media are waiting with bated breath to attack anyone on the right who has the audacity to boldly challenge Barack Obama’s failed “hope” and “change.” The more conservative and principled the candidate, the more threatening he or she will be to the Obama agenda … and the more vicious the Obama defenders in the mainstream media will become.

When it comes to the GOP candidate who will challenge Obama in 2012, don’t expect many in the mainstream media to do their job the way they should. Don’t expect the vast majority of reporters to play fair. Expect plenty of double standards. Expect a bulk of reporters to be driven by one thing and one thing only — their desire to ensure the reelection of President Obama.

I want all 2012 candidates to be challenged. I want reporters asking tough questions about their records, their policies, and their visions for America. I want candidates to be held accountable for what they have said, what they have done, and any discrepancies between the two. If objective journalism were alive and well, those reporters would hold President Obama to the same standards. If I were you, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

It’s well past time to be realistic about “objective” journalism and the games of some in the mainstream media. However, it’s also time to be realistic about the enormous power of the people — of grassroots America — to deliver the truth that so many in the media elite would love for voters to never see.

Let mainstream media shenanigans make you that much more committed to setting the record straight, to utilizing the blogosphere and social media outlets to call it like you see it, and to letting the media elite know that the days of them controlling outcomes by perpetuating falsehoods are over.

Jedediah Bila is a conservative columnist, television commentator and author of the new book Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative. For more information on Jedediah, please visit jedediahbila.com. Follow Jedediah on Twitter.