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Mark Halperin Labels Election Coverage ‘Disgusting’

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Posted on Nov 25, 2008

Time’s veteran political reporter calls coverage of the 2008 election, during both the primary and general election, “the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war” because of “extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage.”

Note: Halperin’s full argument has been left on the cutting room floor. If you’ve seen the clip in its full context, let us know in the comments below.

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By Sodium, December 4, 2008 at 10:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have never trusted the comments and political analysis of this guy when he worked for ABC.He has appeared and sounded to me as a slick DOUBLR TALKER. How can I take his words seriously now? No way.

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By realveive, November 28, 2008 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment

Mark Halperin is Moronicus Rex and, as such, is a total waste of time.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, November 28, 2008 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

Media impartiality is a dangerous myth. One wonders if those who speak of it as a worthy goal have ever given any significant consideration as to what true media impartiality would look like. Here’s a hint : everything you think you know is wrong.

Partiality is inherent in every act of human volition. There’s partiality in determining which foot hits the floor first when you climb out of bed in the morning. Given history’s long record of human suffering, a truly impartial view would have to start by questioning wether politics itself holds any promise for improving the lot of the living.

The media is right to jealously guard whatever credibility it has. But credibility and impartiality are not the same. Instead of striving for true impartiality, most news organizations settle for a vague notion of giving equal time to the opposing parties. And this is where the danger part of the myth lies. The whole rotten set up gives people the idea that there are opposing truths at play. That they, the viewer/reader, are entitled to decide which truth they prefer and to align themselves with the team associated with that truth. And as a consequence, they are permitted to ignore any facts or inconvenient information that might threaten their team’s version of the truth.

As D.F. Malone famously said at the Scopes trial, “There is never a duel with the truth”. If you are going to a be truthful reporter, you are going to be partial to the truth, or at least, partial to what you believe is the truth. Impartiality? Equal time? Fair and balanced? We’re not suckered by those who stand in it’s way. We’re suckered by our own belief in it.

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By dasm, November 27, 2008 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Republicans & right wing pundits are completely out to lunch on this one.  There is only one reason that Obama got more positive coverage than McCain/Palin:  the vast majority of the McCain/Palin campaign was negative, hate-mongering, & fear-mongering. When jornalists reported on what went on at their rallies, etc., of course the news item made them look negative—the two of them promoted negativity themselves.

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By JustTheFacts, November 27, 2008 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment

I consider myself a open minded person and I have yet to wrap my mind around this alleged “media bias”...I found for the first time a candidate who’s political chassis didn’t not have a lot of dents and dings to focus on…articulation and intellect are not common characteristics we find in a lot of Politicians, so that is a draw in itself…common sense issues that ordinary people can relate to, conveyed via a Politicians is a rarity, eloquent, yet down to earth…I think because all forms of media are “Sensation” driven and he bore the title ” No Drama Obama” those who journalistic careers were based on such hype found themselves on the outside looking in and ridiculed in the public eye…For a rare moment in time, America could focus in on a complete Candidate and were fascinated…

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By mill, November 27, 2008 at 4:24 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Haperin should at least blush when he dishes out so much one-sided silliness. 

Almost makes me pine for the “equal time” doctrine days.  I’d rather have reality-driven coverage though.

Maybe Obama is more newsworthy, and more positive in substance ... and so is much of the coverage, even by Fox at rare times.  Reality-driven coverage.

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By Purple Girl, November 27, 2008 at 7:26 am Link to this comment

Ya think those who pushed Bush’s propaganda are now feeling the sting of biased reporting? Ahhh to bad Sooo Sad.
These ones who perpetuated the ‘They hate US for Our Freedoms’. or ‘Iraq was in on 9/11’ or ‘Trickle Down is a Free market System’.
Frankly these are the ones who should be facing charges of dispensing propaganda to Defraud the Citizens of the US and around the World.
had they bothered to do their Job instead of getting checks and kudos from their TREASONOUS Bosses, we wouldn’t be in this Clusterfuck economically, socially or internationally.
go ahead Whine Louder, Our attention to your complicity grows everytime you do!
We should at least be able to charge them for misrepresentation as a ‘Free media’ outlet since it has been proven they are State Run communication outlets….Called False Advertising and Deceptive sales techniques. When your Group is sent Daily talking points claiming you are ‘Fair and Balanced’ is FRAUD!Hell most of these dumbasses couldn’t even paraphrase their Scripted Lies.
In fact they should be held accountable for intentionally Dividing this ‘UNITED States’ for their masters Gains (Political, economic and Social oppression). Weren’t those who attempted to divide US by Geographical lines guilty of Treason (North & South)..why not those who have attempted a civil war along Ideological lines any different.
The ‘Left’ tries to guarantee Freedoms, While the ‘Right’ works to suppress them.

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By Michael, November 27, 2008 at 1:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Intelligent people tended to like Obama.  Most media people are intelligent.  Ergo, most media people liked Obama. 

Even so, the media tried hard to be impartial.

But eight years of Bush Disaster Capitalism (which McCain would have perpetuated) coupled with the specter of a President Palin, may have moved well meaning journalists to fudge sometimes.  Maybe.

If I had to choose between a media that despite its best efforts betrayed bias towards a superior candidate, and a media that sucked up to mediocre war monger Bush who was incompetent to boot, I’d prefer the media that liked Obama.

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By Folktruther, November 26, 2008 at 9:47 pm Link to this comment

This is the usual bullshit that the mainstream media like to print or air to show how ‘left’ they are and how they are critized for it.  They seldom print criticism from the left detailing their procorporate and military bias. 

The NYTimes was instrumental in printing front page stories stating that there was mass destruction weapons in Iraq in support for the war there and, as a Zionist paper, strongly supported the attack on Iran for a time.  Halparin is the same kind of fake progressive.

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By alterid, November 26, 2008 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Many on this thread have already articulated the absurdity of this man’s premise
from so many angles…I am always so grateful for people who can think.

To all this I add my own visceral and I admit, slightly less dignified, response:

sour grapes, razzzzzberries, and a big whatever to you Halperin..
take a nap.

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By BigIslandDave, November 26, 2008 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey, Arius and you other deluded fools out there:

If the corporate whore media were so in the tank for Obama, then why did they hammer incessantly at his Rev. Wright and Ayers connections while virtually ignoring Caribou Barbie’s involvement with that treasonous Alaska secessionist group? You call that balanced coverage? Get real.

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By Emanuel Goldstein, November 26, 2008 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well that’s another thing that Halperin and al-Qaida have in common.  They are both upset about alleged media bias in favor of Obama. Next thing we’ll hear is that right-wing Palin fanatics and al-Qaida have the same hostility toward Obama’s race.

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By Ed Harges, November 26, 2008 at 5:18 am Link to this comment

There were many, many striking instances when the media bent over backward to give McCain a break. For example, after each of the Presidential debates, the immediate verdict of the commentators was that both candidates did very well - but in particular, John McCain showed great strength, and therefore it was a win for McCain, since everyone expected the silver-tongued Obama to win handily with his facile eloquence, etc.

Then, in each case, what happened? The public opinion polls showed that the PEOPLE, with NO help from the media, had concluded that Obama was the clear winner of each debate. Public opinion in favor of Obama was way ahead of the media. The media (except Fox, of course) started to go with the flow because they could see a wave coming, and they didn’t want to lose viewers.

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By Tom Allen, November 26, 2008 at 12:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sour grapes and pouting from a neocon loser.

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By JP Ford, November 26, 2008 at 12:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Halperin is just trying to save face for appearing so liberal in the 2004 elections when he instructed his folks at ABC News to “not reflexively and artificially hold both sides ‘equally’ accountable” and that both John Kerry and George W. Bush used “distortion” in their campaign, but that Kerry’s distortions were not “central to his efforts to win.” He was the Political Director for ABC news at the time and sent a memo saying the above to his staff. Now he is tyring to look “objective” by saying the media was soft on Obama,,,typical political reporting hack.

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By problemsolver, November 25, 2008 at 11:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Halperin seems to be misinformed, which is strange for someone who is in the political commentary business.  It seems to me that McCain’s coverage was about the same as Obama’s and the spin monkeys on all the networks included representatives or partisans from both camps.  Fox “news” was probably the sole exception, but there the coverage of Obama was largely negative.
If Halperin means to say that the McCain campaign was criticized more heavily than the Obama campaign by nearly all the networks, he is probably right.  Even some conservative commentators pointed out that McCain & Palin lead a “stupid” campaign, so this criticism was appropriate, was it not? 
Finally, for the past eight years when Republican fools were given equal press time with progressive commentators, we needed this kind of comment from Halperin.  At present it seems rather disingenuous as well as inappropriate.

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By Opening Eyes, November 25, 2008 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment

Let them basque in their made up story of reasons why their world was turned upside down by the amazing success of the grass roots internet based campaign that the Obama people conducted.  Their campaign really didn’t need corporate media.  Feeling threatened Halperin?  You and those who agree with you are lost in a by-gone world and have to concoct some reason for what happened.  Pity.

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By Klaus, November 25, 2008 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“They have no clue the 24/7 research”

Yes, Arius, they have no clue about the 24/7 delusional paranoia of bloggers who are desperately trying to find a way to convince themselves that the electorate simply liked the other candidate and his proposals better.

Nevermind that all the academic studies conducted with some shred of scientific rigor found that Obama received a disproportionately greater amount of negative coverage after the Iowa caucuses. Yes, anonymous-psycho-blogger thinks the reflection of the light on Wolf Blitzer’s upper beard hairs clearly means that he secretly loves Obama! OMG!

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By Ed Harges, November 25, 2008 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment

Um, setting aside for a moment the question of whether the election coverage really was or wasn’t biased - shouldn’t one’s “disgust” be a function not only of whether there was bias, but of whether the bias was in support of something good or bad?

Is biased reporting in support of a murderously destructive and totally unnecessary war really no more disgusting than biased reporting in favor of a candidate who is in fact by far the better candidate, and whose election victory also accomplishes a deeply necessary repudiation of the political party which has given us George W. Bush, unquestionably the very worst president this republic has ever suffered?

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By yours truly, November 25, 2008 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Doesn’t Matter Who MSM Did Or Did Not Support

“What matters?”

“Our making sure that President Barack Obama delivers on his campaign promise to end the Iraq War, negotiate with Iran plus turning things around here at home.”

“Based on?”

“Yes we can.:

“And then what sort of world?”

“It’ll be up to us.”

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By Arius, November 25, 2008 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

y Mary Abb McNeely, November 25 at 4:33 pm #

ah, Wrong

By BobZ, November 25 at 4:17 pm #

ah, completely off base, clueless and WRONG

By diamond, November 25 at 1:39 pm #

What ignorance you display on the topic- you are an example of the uneducated in what our news media is SUPPOSED to be all about- 

Anyone who says Halperin is wrong is obviously an Obama bot-  They have no clue the 24/7 research many did on the facial expressions, the rhetoric, the favortism for Obama, the negative bullshit about the Clintons endless displayed and no mention of most negative topics about Obama.

Keep the bullshit alive people- you are the reason this country has lost all it’s integrity and run the country into the toilet.. keep the bullshit alive!

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By Arius, November 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment



A liberal who did not support ‘The Chosen One’

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By Mary Abb McNeely, November 25, 2008 at 4:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The MSM wanted to trash Obama and did to a certain extent.  Being corporately owned, they wanted the Republicans to stay in power.  They were overtaken by the horrendous economy and McCain’s deranged campaign which was written by the last surviving and senile members of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

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By BobZ, November 25, 2008 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

Halperin is way off base here, and way too smart to believe his own b.s. Obama got hammered on Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers and even ran with some of the Acorn stories. The overriding story in the last two months was the economy which overshadowed everything and shutdown the Republican smear machine for the duration of the campaign. Palin was the other big story and the media was correct in questioning her fitness for office. The newspapers have lost much of their political influence and television and the internet have taken over the role that newspapers used to play. The internet reflects the grassroots of both political persuasions, and television if anything reflects a conservative bias, and is certainly not liberal except for Olbermann and Maddow. Radio is extreme right wing. So where is alll of this bias toward Obama? There is none - it is yet another Republican “straw man” that they have been pushing since Richard Nixon ran for office in 1968.

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By Greg, November 25, 2008 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Do you really think all those republican nut job preachers in all those churches around the USA gave Obama equal consideration?

No, they spent all their time saying, he is a Muslim, he is the antichrist, he is a democrat so he can not be a Christian, he is a terrorist….........

There will always be bias.

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By diamond, November 25, 2008 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

Halperin is just displaying his contempt for the American voter. Unfortunately for people like him and publications like Time most people no longer get their news exclusively from the print media or TV both of which have failed completely on 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the so-called ‘war on terror’ and the corruption of Wall St and the global banking system by far right politicians and organised crime. To name just a few issues on which the public is now far better informed than Mr. Halperin would ever have wanted them to be. It wasn’t the coverage of the election that put the final nail in the Republicans’ coffin: it was Sarah Palin. Palin shot herself in the foot almost every day and no one could have protected her from that. They tried, of course. The arrogance, the ignorance, the winking and clumsy, folksy attempts at humour were George W. Bush in a skirt and glasses. Given a choice, who in their right mind would want another President like that if McCain had a heart attack? For that matter who would want a president who said America would have to stay in Iraq for a hundred years? With the neo con record of 9/11, anthrax attacks and two lost wars ever present, the right’s lies and mismanagement all came home like chickens to the roost in the perfect storm of a global economic meltdown just as the election drew near. Halperin is proceeding from a false premise: that the voters are absolute fools who wouldn’t have elected Obama if the media hadn’t thrown things his way. This is just plain wrong but it shows that those on the far right never learn anything and despise the democratic process and by extension the voters. That’s what makes them so dangerous.

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By BruSays, November 25, 2008 at 12:06 pm Link to this comment

I see three factors at work here:
1. Corporate Media Bias: The “bias” isn’t in favoring one candidate over another, it’s in favoring one story over another. Ayers’ link to Obama was absurd…yet they played it up because it brought in viewers and listeners (and brought up ratings). Same for Palin’s clothes or McCain’s so-called affair. It’a all about selling the sizzle and substance be damned. Sizzle sells toothpaste; substance bores viewers whose attention span is shorter than this sentence.
2. Obama’s Campaign was Clean. He wasn’t targeted by the press because he didn’t paint a bulls-eye on his head the way McCain did. He simply ran a better, cleaner, more consistent campaign. McCain’s campaign was flipping and flopping so much it took on a story all its own.
3. Palin. Obama, himself a mature, intelligent and articulate politician, chose a like-mannered running mate. McCain chose a clueless creationist who was putty in the hands of Corporate Media hacks looking for a story.

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By BigIslandDave, November 25, 2008 at 10:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If anybody’s disgusting, it’s Halperin and his fellow lapdog media whores. The reason the “mainstream media” went “light” on Barack Obama is that this extraordinary young politician ran a clean and efficient campaign. He didn’t wallow in the gutter like McSame and Caribou Barbie, who couldn’t run on the issues but instead resorted to mudslinging and name-calling. Halperin’s hollow indignation is nothing more than the bleating of a sore loser whose rightist ideology has been soundly rejected by the electorate.

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By Eric L. Prentis, November 25, 2008 at 10:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The corporate media wants to perpetuate the myth that Barack Obama got preferential treatment from the press. In reality, the Republicans put forth a schlock message of stay the course in Iraq and trickle down tax cuts for the wealthy. John McCain is an old man living in the past and Sarah Palin is an unqualified candidate who couldn’t converse beyond her talking points. This is not a question of statistics, but of reasoned inference, truth and reality.

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By tdbach, November 25, 2008 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

For reasons unfathomable, Halperin has made Karl Rove’s political mission - to enshrine as “common sense” the myth of a liberal bias in the news media - his personal mission, too. Rove’s reason was to take all the power away from facts so that his propoganda was on an equal footing with reality. It’s cynical in the extreme, but not without political efficacy, so it is understandable (if not forgivable). Rove, after all, is trying to get Republicans elected. What’s Halperin’s excuse?

I wish we could see the entire session. I’d love to know if Halperin supports his claim with any data - or even observations.

He’s supposed to be a news man. If so, then he should know better than anyone that reporting abhores a vacuum. If there’s little or no information about someone or some topic thrust into the public spotlight, they make it their mission to uncover everything they can about it. At the outset of the primaries, Obama was the primary topic of coverage, because he was relatively new to the public stage, and most of the coverage, as is their wont, was in search of “dirt” - Rev. Wright, etc. By the time the general election came around, this ground was pretty well covered, and McCain’s attempts to resurrect them (except for Wright) didn’t go anywhere because of it. However, McCain decided to pluck a snow princess from the wilderness and make her his VP running mate, just two months before the election. Off those same reporters go in pursuit of her skeletons. It’s no surprise that she garnered a lot of bad press, too. The big difference between her and Obama’s coverage was that Obama availed himself to the press constantly and reponded to their inquiries with his characteristic intelligence and grasp of the issues. Ms. Palin, on the other hand, was kept from the press as much as possible and even in those limited exposures, she stumbled badly, so that her own weaknesses became a self-perpetuating news story.

Sometimes the losing team loses, not because the crowd isn’t behind them, but because they suck.

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By troublesum, November 25, 2008 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

The problem with media coverage is not bias one way or another but rather the trivializing of the campaign by focusing on non issues rather than the issues people care about.  The important issues were the economy, the war, health care and taxation.  There was no debate on any of these issues.  All we know is that Obama gave a speech against the war when he was state senator and that McCain wanted more troops from the get go.  It was clear that neither had a clue about how to deal with the economic crisis aside from vague notions about “getting this country moving again.”
We know that Obama was acquainted with a 60’s radical and that McCain once hugged Bush during the 2004 campaign.  We know more about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe than we know about what Obama intends specifically to change.  Palin’s wardrobe was the main issue in the last three weeks of the campaign.

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By mackTN, November 25, 2008 at 8:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I must totally agree with Halperin.  Punditry (otherwise known as gossiping)allows reporters to opine about events without documented backup.  It also creates stories, artificially inflates them in size & importance.  Take Bill Ayers. Simple reporting revealed that this was not a story, nor was all the hysteria about ACORN.  But always-on journalism needs this sensationalism for ratings and ratings=revenue. 

True reporting would have also debunked Hillary Clinton’s claim to a lifetime of governing experience. 

But reporters now allow themselves to be intimidated and manipulated. “Let’s not ask Palin any hard questions, lest we be accused of “gotcha” journalism.” 

I’m beginning to think that the fourth estate now undermines democracy by putting profits and commercial needs first and foremost.

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By Dave24, November 25, 2008 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Everyone has bias, including Mark Halperin.  Anyone who expects to receive information from the news without some kind of slant is a moron, and anyone that would actually be influenced by a demagogue is a moron.

I’d rather hear reporters express their opinions (considering they’re doing all the research) and then choose which advice to accept.  Citizens have to start informing themselves independently while selectively assimilating the commentaries of news organizations.

If you read the same story from a variety of news sources, the truth will seep through.  Anyone who just swallows what they hear are useless anyway, so whether the media are biased or not is moot.

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By Samuel, November 25, 2008 at 7:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We have been conditioned over the last 15 years to right leaning faux journalism. So, when there is actually a small amount of real journalism happening in this country its immediately criticized for being “liberal” when in reality is just at a normal standards (at best).

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By Allan Krueger, November 25, 2008 at 5:47 am Link to this comment

Hey, Mark… If the Republicans had brought forth a ticket with qualified candidates, then, perhaps most of the thinking people in this country would have had more of a choice. Think, Mark: President Palin! Bias? FUX and all of the right wing hacks, make no apologies for their reporting…

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