As Rosslyn Smith noted , the protests by those in the media that they really are objective and are just there to report the facts so please, please don't shoot the messenger if the results are not to your liking is false. Michael Hastings, a Newsweek reporter who has covered presidential candidates, admits in a GQ.com article aptly titled "Hack: Confessions of a Campaign Reporter,"to the lack of media objectivity.
Covering Rudy Giuliani, he confesses:
The reality is: I quickly realized Rudy was a maniac. I had a recurring fantasy in which I took him out during a press conference (it was nonlethal, just something that put him out of commission for a year or so), saving America from the horror of a President Giuliani. If that sounds like I had some trouble being “objective,” I did. Objectivity is a fallacy. In campaign reporting more than any other kind of press coverage, reporters aren’t just covering a story, they’re a part of it—influencing outcomes, setting expectations, framing candidates—and despite what they tell themselves, it’s impossible to both be a part of the action and report on it objectively. In some cases, you genuinely like the candidate you’re covering and you root for him, because over the long haul you come to see him as a human being. For a long time, this was John McCain’s ace in the hole with the press, whom he referred to as “my base.” Reporters rode along with him, and he joked with them, and that went a long way toward shaping the tone of their coverage. (Last January a group of reporters asked McCain’s staff to make McCain campaign press T-shirts for them.) And because your success is linked to the candidate’s, you want to be with a winner, because that’s the story that makes the paper or the magazine or gets you on TV.
So apparently, reporting on a candidate is not about well, reporting on a candidate, doing the job professionally but is all about me! me! me!
And if there no glory? No me in the report?
How would I escape hackdom? I could continue to gather the material I was supposed to gather, and I could try to write about what I'd seen in some way that felt honest, but it would likely be cut or certainly diluted. In the end, it wouldn't be the story I wanted to tell. I'd been at it for nearly a year, and maybe the best I had to offer were a few stories about Bill Clinton and Chuck Norris. But I think they told me all I needed to know about covering a presidential race. To borrow from Teddy White, what I had a part of had nothing to do with purifying and protecting.
So I dropped out, too.
Mr. Hastings, you dropped out long before--or never entered--when you thought you had to purify and protect. You just had to report. And you didn't.