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Do journalists' political donations (mostly Democratic) = news bias?

July 26, 2008 |  8:40 am

Anyone perusing the media in recent days might have gotten the vague impression that someone named Barack Obama has been oDemocrat Barack Obama's presidential camapign logon some kind of foreign trip somewhere.

Funny how that information somehow seeped through despite all the other competing stories about the presumptive Democratic candidate for president visiting Iraq and Afghanistan.

And there were other distracting stories about a freshman senator from Illinois meeting with Israeli and Palestinian politicians. And a former state senator, also coincidentally from Illinois, speaking to a large crowd of Germans in Berlin for some reason.

And then an African American lawyer from Chicago had a real bon ami-bon ami moment with the shorter president of France before moving on to Britain today to smile and do that....

...walking out of the door of No. 10 Downing Street photo moment.

Oh, wait, those weren 't competing stories. They were all about the same guy. And in case you didn't get enough of him last week in a gazillion "Exclusive" TV interviews, there's at least one more coming Sunday morning, also somehow Exclusive. In that one on "Meet the Press" he'll probably tell Tom Brokaw that his mind wasn't changed by the trip from the pre-trip opinions he announced last week.

All of this prompted Investors Business Daily to publish a trenchant op-ed by William Tate that reported on his examination of Federal Election Commission records for donations by journalists.

You'll never guess what he says he found -- 235 journalists donating to Democrats while only 20 gave to Republicans for a total of $225,563 to Democrats and $16,298 to the the GOP-inclined.

That's small potatoes moneywise in terms of the nearly $1 billion collected so far in this election cycle. But Tate sees a valuable built-in bias among Democratic journalists for candidates of their party.

Last summer Bill Dedman at MSNBC did a massive research project, examining political donations by journalists over several years and found a similar overwhelming number of Democratic journalists (125 of 143 political donors while only 16 gave to Republican candidates and two others were bi-.

At these emotional times of presidential campaigns, certain to grow even more intense before Nov. 4, bias is often in the eyes of the beholder.

Those same donation figures could also be used to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Republican journalists are a whole lot stingier than their liberal colleagues.

--Andrew Malcolm

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