In 2002, Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto, the managing editor for business at the network, contributed $1,000 to a fund-raising dinner for President Bush.
So reveals Howard Kurtz, media critic for The Washington Post.
Informed of Cavuto's contribution, John Moody, Fox News vice president, lamented, "I wish he hadn't." Moody has circulated a new network policy discouraging political contributions. "I hope our people will follow the advice I've given to them voluntarily. The potential perception is that they favor one candidate over another."
Kurtz lists dozens of contributions from media heavyweights to candidates, with most of the money going to Democrats or to the 2000 campaign of John McCain. Surprise, surprise.
But what is wrong with Neal Cavuto contributing $1,000 of his own money to re-elect a president he believes has been good for his country? By putting his political convictions out in the open for all to see, Cavuto's contribution seems to me open and honest. Anyone who has watched the Cavuto show on Fox is not going to be shocked that George W. Bush is his man.
What of Moody's fear, "The potential perception is that they favor one candidate over another"? But in Cavuto's case, and the other cases cited by Kurtz, the perception is reality. The media folks who made those contributions wanted those candidates to win. And if the perception is reality, why should not people know the truth about the leanings, loyalties and allegiances of the men and women who cover and comment on politics?
Moody seems to prefer the viewers of Fox News to remain in the dark about where Fox's anchors, reporters and commentators stand. But why? Well, he understandably fears that, otherwise, viewers may suspect that Fox's journalists are slanting the news or tilting the commentary. But cannot the people, informed where a journalist stands, make that judgment for themselves?
The truth is that journalists, who are among the best informed and most ideologically committed of Americans, do favor and disfavor causes and candidates. Why should the public not know of these preferences, prejudices and allegiances? Is public ignorance better than public knowledge?
For generations, our media elite has fed the people the party line that journalists are objective and neutral observers who call it as they see it, concerned only with fairness, truth and accuracy, and who are ever on guard to keep their opinions our of their copy. The media have a vested interest in perpetuating this myth.
But it is not the truth. In many cases, it is wholesale consumer fraud. Almost everyone in journalism, and much of the public, knows it.