White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

What is a legitimate press organization? It is an important question, but it is one that doesn’t have a complicated answer.

If you were to ask Paul Farhi of The Washington Post then legitimate news organizations are ones that reside in Washington, DC or New York and feign independence. Mr. Farhi objects to the inclusion of The Daily Signal, a publication that was started by the Heritage Foundation, to the White House Press Pool.

He writes:

The pool reporter covering Vice President Pence on Thursday — that is, the reporter who supplied details about Pence’s daily activities as proxy for the rest of the press corps — was an employee of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank.

In other words, the news that reporters received about the vice president came from a journalist employed by an organization with a vested interest in the direction of White House and federal policy.

The development is unusual; the reporter, Fred Lucas, is the first member of his organization to take on pool reporting duties, which are typically handled on a rotating basis by mainstream news organizations. Lucas also covered Pence as the pooler two weeks ago.

Farhi goes on to note that there were no objections to Fred Lucas’ pool reports, but some reporters had a problem because of the symbolism of it all.

While there were no objections to Lucas’s pool reports on Pence, some journalists suggested the presence of the Signal as a member of the pool crossed a symbolic line, into greater legitimacy for the partisan press.

A symbolic line which is completely laughable. Jonathan Tobin at National Review provides a case-in-point. Journalists complained when the New York Daily News scaled back their criticism of President Donald Trump once he was elected.

What is surprising — and, indeed, ought to shock journalists who care about their profession — is the way the staff of the News, along with other journalists, reacted to the decision on the part of the paper’s publishers to scale back its assault on Trump once he was elected president. They had no problem with their newspaper’s using its front page and news section, as well as their opinion columns and editorials, to bash Trump. But once it decided to tone down the abuse, albeit while still regularly attacking him, the News’ staff didn’t treat this as an example of a newspaper trying to regain at least a smidgen of objectivity. No, they have made it clear — as a feature sympathetic to the paper’s rebels in Politico indicates — that this more measured if still critical attitude toward the president is a sign that the paper has lost its integrity.

He made the following point:

That may make sense in the world of mainstream-media journalism, where anything less than open bias against conservatives (or against anyone who offends liberal sensibilities, such as Trump) is not considered objective. But when journalists are exposed in this fashion, it must strike the rest of the country as yet another reason to view the media with distrust, if not outright hostility.

The latest USA Today/Suffolk University Poll showed that Trump’s favorability numbers (-3) is better than the media’s (-15).  What do you think USA Today chose to focus on in their coverage? There was also no mention of President Trump’s numbers being better than the Democrat Party, Republicans and Congress as well.

Obviously this is one poll and there are many reasons why one’s numbers reflect the way they do. If the media thinks 50 percent of Americans disapprove of their performance while only 37 percent approve is because they have been fair, balanced and independent they must be high.

I do have to give them credit for at least asking about media favorability, most polls exclude that.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight even acknowledges there was a liberal media bubble when it came to the election. The bubble continues.

An analysis was done of news coverage regarding Trump and it shows an overwhelming bias.

Here is what this analysis found. Only 3 percent of the reports about Trump that aired on NBC and CBS were positive, while 43 percent were negative and 54 percent were neutral.

On “Special Report,” the Fox News program that most closely resembles the evening network news, 25 percent of the reports about Trump were negative, compared with 12 percent positive and the remainder neutral. In other words, even the conservative-leaning Fox News featured twice as much bad press as good press.

You factor in CNN and MSNBC and I’m certain it would be even worse.

My point is this – all news organizations have bias. The Daily Signal is transparent about theirs. One can argue this transparency will force them to be even more diligent to provide accurate pool reports.  Conservative and liberal journalists can produce news regardless of their ideological bias. Facts are facts and provided the facts are reported accurately there should be no problem.

Unfortunately with the “mainstream” media they have demonstrated an inability to do that.

I agree with Mr. Farhi that Gateway Pundit shouldn’t be included in the press pool but, as Erick Erickson pointed out this morning, it would be easier to take his complaint seriously if he objected to Salon, The Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo getting press credentials while President Obama was in office.

So what is a legitimate press organization? One that presents facts accurately and fairly regardless of who their parent organization is. I also believe legitimate news organizations are transparent. I have far, far more respect for The Huffington Post and their stated bias than I do for CNN or The Des Moines Register who feigns independence but are clearly biased.

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