State capitol reporter Brunswick links to an intriguing — if not exactly surprising — report on journalists putting their money where their mouths (most often) are not:
Confirming what many already believe about the leftward leanings of the so-called mainstream media, MSNBC investigative reporter Bill Dedman appears to have done a pretty exhaustive job of ferretting out 144 journalists who made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign.
Dedman finds that 125 of the scribes gave to Democrats or liberal causes. Only 17 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.
The almost casual justifications Dedman quotes for the contributions might be surprising to those long-accustomed to the concept of neutrality in journalism.
It’s certainly unsettling to read of a sympathetic 2004 profile of Teresa Heinz Kerry followed 10 days later by a $1,000 donation to the Democratic National Committee by the author of the story.
There are also local connections in Dedman’s report:
Not cited in the main story but listed in the report was part-time Star Tribune copy editor Barbara Haugen, who is listed as giving $250 in October 2006 to Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar.
Haugen did not return phone calls made by MSNBC seeking comment, and has yet to respond to the Big Question.
But Star Tribune managing editor Scott Gillespie told MSNBC: “We have a conflict of interest policy. We ask that people who are involved in political coverage – we dissuade them – we actually dissuade the entire staff. We haven’t banned it outright for the entire newsroom. Our policy says that people should avoid doing any partisan politics on their own, avoid any politics. It’s especially emphasized for people who do political coverage.”
In the main story, Dedman also writes:
“Several of the journalists reasoned that their activism is acceptable precisely because the public would not know – unless they go to the trouble to search the FEC records.
“‘A lot of us want to be politically active. But marching in a war protest isn’t an option, being a recognizable person, so we give with our checkbook,’ said Alix Kendall, the morning anchor for Fox station KMSP in Minneapolis, who gave $250 in September to the Midwest Values PAC, which passed the money on to Democratic candidates.
“‘I don’t think that working for a news organization I give up my rights. I interview plenty of people that I don’t agree with, but I also ask questions to get the other side.’”