ABC on CBS’s Heels

October 10, 2004

I’ve been out of town following my trip to St. Louis for the debate so I haven’t had a chance to post since the close of the debate. I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about the internal memo from Mark Halperin, ABC big dog political honcho and commandeer of “The Note,” frequently cited here.

This New York Post article confirms the story, originally broken by Matthew Drudge. The gist of it was that Halperin told the ABC staff reporting the debate to hold Bush more accountable than John Kerry. The memo said:

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

The current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn’t mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides ‘equally’ accountable when the facts don’t warrant that.

It’s up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest, now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.

The arrogance contained in that missive is astounding. Not only do they self-styled elitists think they have to tell the voters what is important, they even believe they’re justified in slanting the news to make it conform to the image they want conveyed. This is another example of “the ends justify the means” mentality enveloping the Old Media. Then, after all this, these people claim “we are not interested in taking sides, we are only interested in getting at the truth.”

So, you think it’s ok to lie in furtherance of imparting the truth? The sad thing is that they are so biased, so intoxicated on their worldview that they don’t even self-reflect enough to see the scandal in what they’re doing.

It’s the exact same mentality as Dan Rather when he said “while the authenticity of the document may be in doubt, we still stand by its accuracy.” Similarly, ABC is saying, in essence, “We can slant the reporting (as opposed to just reporting and let the viewers decide), but it’s ok because it’s necessary for us to slant it in order for the idiotic, ignorant public to see it our way — which is the only way. In other words, the viewing public is simply too ignorant to be trusted with the unabridged version so we’ll tweak our reporting so they’ll see it through our lenses. That kind of arrogance is scary.

Halperin can talk about holding the candidates “equally accountable,” but what ought to happen is for someone — or the public itself — to hold him and his colleagues accountable. The outrageousness of this incident must not be understated.