Mark Halperin gives a media bias demonstration
posted at 9:18 am on September 6, 2012 by Libby Sternberg
“I don’t think it’s liberal bias in the media that says this story is pretty much done, because they fixed it.”
So said Time magazine’s Mark Halperin on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program about reinstating the word “God” and support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel back into the Democratic platform at the DNC convention Wednesday night.
If anything proves liberal media bias, however, it was Mr. Halperin’s ridiculous statement. Of course the platform kerfuffle is still news; its story has yet to be completely told. Even Mr. Halperin himself admitted that he’s “still not entirely clear” on how the deletions in the Democratic platform were made initially. Maybe a real journalist would be curious enough to pursue this story, but Mr. Halperin obviously doesn’t think it is a story at all anymore, now that the language on God and Jerusalem were reinserted.
Does anyone doubt that this controversy would have been a lead story had it occurred at the GOP convention, eclipsing marquee speakers, no matter how good they were?
The only reason it’s not news anymore to someone like Mr. Halperin is because he doesn’t want it to be—it embarrasses the Democrats. If that’s not media bias, what is?
Think about it—what exactly is news? The convention speakers are scripted and programmed—journos know what will happen, even if they don’t have the transcript of the speech in front of them beforehand. The bulk of the stories could have been written before the actual speeches: Ann Romney humanizes husband, Bill Clinton wows crowd.
The vote on the DNC platform changes was unscripted, though, with no clear indication of the outcome. If you caught it live, as I did, it was riveting. DNC Convention Chair and Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa presented the new language (with a reference to “God” and support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital) to the delegates, then asked for the Yeas and Nays. The first voice vote was unclear. Looking confused, he asked for a do-over. The second voice vote sounded as if the Nays had it. Yet he asked for another voice vote. The third one sounded as if the Nays definitely had it. And then he declared…the Yeas the winner, to strong boos from the losing voters. Normally, an ambiguous voice vote outcome is followed by a roll call vote. Why didn’t the DNC convention chair call for one? Why did he ignore the outcome of the vote?
Why is that alone not news–DNC Convention Chair Steamrolls Platform Vote.
This is, in fact, a perfect example of the old news definition cliché. Speeches are dog-bites-man, routine and predictable. The platform vote was man-bites-dog, something new, different and unpredictable.
There were several “man bites dog” moments in the platform controversy, starting with the elimination of the word “God” and the shift in policy position on Jerusalem and Israel in the first place. That alone would have been worth a discussion or two by the talking heads on the convention coverage panels. Yet Mr. Halperin was phenomenally uncurious, considering the whole issue unnewsworthy because “they fixed it.”
Yes, they did “fix” it, if you view the vote. And one would think that even the greenest of rookie journalists would be able to identify vote-fixing as a news story. Not Mr. Halperin, however.
Here’s the clip of the vote itself that Mr. Halperin doesn’t deem a story any longer because the platform was fixed:
Here’s Mark Halperin’s remarks (be warned: MSNBC usually embeds an ad at the outset of their clips):
Libby Sternberg is a novelist.