Big Journalism, Round 2

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 18 2011 9:59 AM

Big Journalism, Round 2

Dana Loesch corrects one of my spelling errors and argues that I went too easy on the liberal media figures whose e-mails appeared on the September17 listserv for Occupy Everywhere organizers.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

The media did not “aid” the tea party; the tea party grew in spite of it.
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This statement is accurate if you leave Fox News out of a definition of "the media." Why would you, though? Fox News's roster in 2009 included a host, Glenn Beck, who started a movement that grew parallel to the Tea Party (the 9-12 movement), and who told viewers to join rallies. Not all reporters or pundits or anchors claim to be objective, with views from nowhere, which was my point.

I am not an “unbiased” NBC anchor who reports on the tea party while hiding the fact that I help write messaging for it. Ratigan and [Matt] Taibbi, especially the former, report on the Occupy movement and expect to be taken objectively, Ratigan more so.

Right, Loesch is clearly identified as a conservative pundit when she appears on CNN. But the "'unbiased' NBC anchor" she refers to here is Dylan Ratigan, who doesn't say he's unbiased. Like I wrote, he proudly leads a new cause called GetMoneyOut, the goal of which is to limit corporate speech and influence in elections. Here's how his website describes his take on news.

Ratigan left as host of CNBC’s Fast Money in 2009, provoked by outrage over the governments handling of the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, he has dedicated his work to launching media properties that will engage and debate the U.S. government on policy, while opening the door for millions to learn more about money’s often poisonous role in our democracy.

The author of Greedy Bastards, who says his goal is "for millions to learn more about money’s often poisonous role in our democracy," comes at the Occupy Wall Street story with a clear POV, which he tells viewers about. Loesch is assigning him a role that he doesn't pretend to play. Same goes for Taibbi. Should they disclose that they've e-mailed a listserv of activists that they disagree with, and shared advice with them? That's what they've been doing in public already!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.