Tag Archives: Cone Of Silence

Poor Thing

NBC has apparently shown some sort of bias towards the Obama campaign. An article in the Guardian which is UK online Newspaper tells of the sad story of John McCain’s campaign being abused by NBC and their “Irresponsible Journalism”.

I wonder if NBC will embrace this in the same way that FOX news corp has embraced their position as a biased news organization for the GOP. The Problem is that FOX has embraced their position with programming but they have done nothing in regards to the somewhat amusing claim of being fair and balanced.

Businesses do not for the most part want to be associated with news outlets that are dogmatic or possible purveyors of propaganda. The main reason is to increase sales. If a advertiser becomes to cozy with one side of an issue their is a very real and well founded fear that people will associate the products of an advertiser with the slanted news outlet that they advertised on.

The problem of objectivity has since been codified in the “Journalism Code of Conduct”. This code of conduct leaves out any directives to be objective. What it does include in the preamble is a sentence which urges; “Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty.” (Society Of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics)

The result is a world in which news organizations strive for objectivity and disregard their natural bias that will come out in he news they report and the way they report it.

“We are extremely disappointed to see that the level of objectivity at NBC news has fallen so low that reporters are now giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims in order to undercut John McCain,” Davis wrote in his letter to Capus, sent late yesterday. (guardian.co.uk)

The Letter from the McCain camp claimed that there was unsubstantiated claims is a little amusing. McCain wasn’t in the so called “Cone of Silence” during part of the question and answer session with Obama. Instead he was on his way in a secret service limo to the event. It could be assumed that McCain would have access to the radio in the limo in addition to his ever present cell phone and that if he had wanted to listen to Obama’s answers he could have, or he could very easily have had his aides call him to prep him on the questions and answers.

The New York Times wrote an article describing the McCain absence from the cone of silence. And presumably the McCain campaign had access to this article prior to the letter being written. Even in that article the whereabouts of Mr. McCain were noted and questioned. For Andrea Mitchell to not comment on this would have been irresponsible Journalism according to the Journalism Code of Ethics.

One of the things that the Professional Journalists Code of Ethics makes special note of is that it is unethical to relate only the parts of a story that agrees to the Journalists political viewpoint. It also makes pains to point out that it is the Journalists job to report everything they learn even if it may be unpopular (in the McCain camp). In this case She clearly states that this was something the Obama camp was privately talking about.


What seems irresponsible is for the McCain campaign to cry foul when there was no foul made. The McCain camp is using this to further reinforce the image that the GOP has perpetrated over the past 20 years, that the media has a ” liberal bias”. While this may or may not have some accuracy, the media seems to respond to this pressure on their advertising by increasing positive coverage of the GOP and decreasing positive coverage of the DNC.

The Letter:

August 17, 2008
Mr. Steve Capus
President, NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112


We are extremely disappointed to see that the level of objectivity at NBC News has fallen so low that reporters are now giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims in order to undercut John McCain.

Nowhere was this more evident than with NBC chief correspondent Andrea Mitchell’s comments on “Meet the Press” this morning. In analyzing last night’s presidential forum at Saddleback Church, Mitchell expressed the Obama campaign spin that John McCain could only have done so well last night because he “may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.” Here are Andrea Mitchell’s comments in full:

Mitchell: “The Obama people must feel that he didn’t do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because what they are putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well-prepared.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” August 17, 2008.

Make no mistake: This is a serious charge. Andrea Mitchell is repeating, uncritically, a completely unsubstantiated Obama campaign claim that John McCain somehow cheated in last night’s forum at Saddleback Church. Instead of trying to substantiate this blatant falsehood in any way, Andrea Mitchell felt that she needed to repeat it on air to millions of “Meet the Press” viewers with no indication that 1.) There’s not one shred of evidence that it’s true; 2.) In his official correspondence to both campaigns, Pastor Rick Warren provided both candidates with information regarding the topic areas to be covered, which Barack Obama acknowledged during the forum when asked about Pastor Warren’s idea of an emergency plan for orphans and Obama said, “I cheated a little bit. I actually looked at this idea ahead of time, and I think it is a great idea;” 3.) John McCain actually requested that he and Barack Obama do the forum together on stage at the same time, making these kinds of after-the-fact complaints moot.

Indeed, instead of taking a critical journalistic approach to this spin, Andrea Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points.

This is irresponsible journalism and sadly, indicative of the level of objectivity we have witnessed at NBC News this election cycle. Instead of examining the Obama campaign’s spin for truth before reporting it to more than 3 million NBC News viewers, Andrea Mitchell simply passed along Obama campaign conspiracy theories. The fact is that during Senator Obama’s segment at Saddleback last night, Senator McCain was in a motorcade to the event and then held in a green room with no broadcast feed. In the forum, John McCain clearly demonstrated to the American people that he is prepared to be our next President…..

We are concerned that your News Division is following MSNBC’s lead in abandoning non-partisan coverage of the Presidential race. We would like to request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss our deep concerns about the news standards and level of objectivity at NBC.


Rick Davis
Campaign Manager
John McCain 2008


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