The police have one of the most political jobs in this country. The voters elect politicians to the State legislature who pass or amend laws, judges who are voted into office by the voters or appointed by the elected politicians interpret those laws, and local politicians such as mayors set policy.
See, what did I tell you? It’s lousy with politics.
But the individual cop is powerless to promote his views past the voting booth. In most jurisdictions, police officers are barred from endorsing one candidate or political party over another. Even if they’re off duty they’d better not be caught doing something as innocent as passing out fliers or collecting signatures door-to-door. If they’re found out they’ll be fired, and if they don’t like the rules they can quit. Either way I hear McDonald’s is hiring.
There’s a very good reason why this is the way it is. Police officers have way too much influence in the community. It would simply be unfair for them to directly meddle in the decision making process, even if there’s PAC’s like the FOP to sidestep the rules. It wouldn’t be fair to the people they have sworn to serve, and it would sully the profession.
I’ve just read a blog post that makes a similar arguement, except the author is talking about news reporters as opposed to police officers.
Those who work in the news industry are supposed to be non-partisan, but it’s indescribably obvious that this is simply not the case. The attempts by the mainstream media to shape public opinion has grown increasingly tiresome in recent years, and the customers who buy their product have responded. Heck, one of the main reasons I started to blog was to get some news that hadn’t been filtered or spun. (I think the same is true for most of you.)
So what to do about this? How could the news outlets gain some credibility and respectability?
They should do what the police do. Start firing a few of the jerks who try to spin a story.
I’m sure that most reporters would consider this to be outrageous, unfair and draconian. After all, they like to say, there’s always going to be some bias in any news story. Reporters are human like everyone else, and their own way of looking at the world will always creep in.
To this I say that police officers are often called upon to uphold laws that they don’t personally agree with. They do it anyway. Imagine what would happen if we allowed the cops to operate with the same double standard that the news media has decided is reasonable for their profession.
(Hat tip to Glen for the heads up.)
6 thoughts on “A Political Job”
As much as I complain about media bias and spin, it is an entirely different siuation from the police because the police are always and in every case public servants who work for the government, paid entirely by taxpayer dollars.
“Those who work in the news industry are supposed to be non-partisan”
Supposed to? Where did you get that idea? It is almost cliche to site the first amendment but….they can write whatever they want from any viewpoint they choose. And anybody who doesn’t agree with them can write a counter-point.
“Supposed to” implies that there is a single organization that regulates, controls and enforces standards for the media. There is not, nor should there be, it especially cannot come from the government itself. I won’t site the long list of governments throughout history that have followed this path.
Again, I’ve complained vociferously about media bias for years but the only remedy is for there to be more free market media that looks at things from different viewpoints and let the readers decide.
The idea of a non-patisan, un-biased, nuetral observer media is a myth, it has never existed and it never will. What has been differnet over the last several decades is that one side managed to monopolize the vast majority of the media and then told everybody that they were magically now “non-partisan”, which they weren’t. The vast majority of the newspapers in this country were founded by one of the two major parties as political propaganda organizations. Unfortunately, most of the ones founded by “conservatives” died out for a variety of reasons (or switched political sides like the New York Times).
The South is a fascinating example. The vast majority of Southern newspapers were founded after the Civil War when almost every white southerner was a Democrat. The Raleigh News and Observer still has chisled in stone in the lobby of it’s building: “Founded to further the goals of the Democratic Party”. Since it’s founding after the Civil War this newspaper has consistently pushed Democratic party ideas and goals, even though the Democratic party has done a complete 180 degree turn in the last 100 years from the Jacksonian party of small government to a liberal party that loves big government. The newspaper never left the Democratic party (although a good bit of the state did), it just changed it’s views along with it. This is one of the more liberal newspapers in the country residing in one of the more conservative states in the country. The same is repeated in every city in the state of North Carolina. There is not a single daily newspaper in the state that could in any way, shape, or form, be described as “conservative” on any issue, in a state that last voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1976, and who elected Jesse Helms 5 times, despite the best efforts of all of these newspapers.
My advice: Keep blogging and don’t let any of the media forget that we’re on to them.
“Supposed to? Where did you get that idea?”
From the news media itself. I can’t count the times that I’ve heard that their job is to report the news, not make it. Opinion is for the editorial page, etc etc.
“Supposed to” implies that there is a single organization that regulates, controls and enforces standards for the media.
No, “supposed to” means that there’s ethics and standards that the news media makes a great deal of noise about following. If they’d be honest about things and admit that they’re shamless partisan hacks the hypocrisy wouldn’t annoy me as much.
…..it especially cannot come from the government itself.
If you think I’m advocating government control of the press then you need to climb down off of your high horse and get a clue.
“If you think I’m advocating government control of the press then you need to climb down off of your high horse and get a clue.
From my high horse, it looks like you picked a very poor analogy, but I suppose I get your overall point: If the press is going to hold itself up as “un-biased” then it should try to be more, un-biased. The problem is that the very process of judging whether the media is un-biased or not means that people who are biased (like everybody on the planet)would have to judge themselves looking through the lens of their own biases to try and determine if they are biased in the first place.
This is why the press insists that it is un-biased: Looking through it’s own biases: what it believes are the things determined by fact and the things that are subject to opinion, they ARE un-biased, in their own eyes anyway.
In the end it is impossible for a media organization to police itself for bias, that is for the outside world to judge.
My solution is that everybody stop pretending that they are un-biased nuetral observers and let people decide which viewpoint they want to get their news from.
Strongly recommended reading here (2,700 words; reading time 7-13 minutes).
DSpears echos my main point about the news media in the US, and why I used to much more enjoy reading European papers when I was in school years ago. At least there the bias is on the label.
perhaps “supposed to be” is not as accurate as “claim to be”….
Evan has a very short but good writeup on this subject from the archives over at BrainTerminal.
Comments are closed.