NASHVILLE, Tenn. Mainstream journalists by definition are not supposed to lean to the left or the right when it comes to politics, but some digging through the public records of the Federal Election Commission revealed that journalists gave campaign cash to Democrats at a ratio of 9 to 1 in recent years.
"There's a longstanding tradition that journalists don't cheer in the press box," Bill Dedman, an investigative reporter for MSNBC.com, wrote June 21. "They have opinions, like anyone else, but they are expected to keep those opinions out of their work. Because appearing to be fair is part of being fair, most mainstream news organizations discourage marching for causes, displaying political bumper stickers or giving cash to candidates."
From a public records search, MSNBC.com identified 144 journalists who have made political contributions since 2004. Of those, 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes, only 17 gave to Republicans, and two gave to both parties, Dedman reported.
The donors come from popular news sources such as CNN, National Public Radio, Fox News Channel, Vanity Fair magazine, The New York Times and even MSNBC, researchers found.
"Apparently none of the journalists disclosed the donations to readers, viewers or listeners," Dedman wrote. "Few told their bosses, either."
With the growing use of the Internet as a tool to track down donation records and other public information, as well as the Iraq war fueling a distrust of the press, Dedman said many news organizations are starting to crack down on their employees' political moves. The Chicago Tribune, CBS and The Atlantic Monthly are among those that have prohibited all political activity aside from voting, he said.The Pew Research Center, Dedman noted, found that more than 72 percent of Americans they surveyed said news organizations tend to favor one side, which marks the highest level of skepticism in 20 years, and two-thirds said they prefer to get news from sources without a particular point of view.