Big Media’s ‘Steadfastly Neutral’ ‘Partisan Ideologues’

Asking his readers to “remember” that, on NBC, Chuck Todd “is billed as a reporter covering the White House, not a pundit expressing opinions,” Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald (7/15/09, ad-viewing required) examines a Todd appearance on the MSNBC show Morning Joe “discussing reports that [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder is likely to appoint a prosecutor to investigate Bush torture crimes. Needless to say, everyone agreed without question that investigations were a ridiculous distraction from what really matters and would be terribly unfair”:

In response to virtually every media criticism (at least the few they acknowledge), establishment journalists will insist that their role is to be steadfastly neutral. They simply report on the debates, not take sides or express opinions about them. Taking one side or the other is not their role. Only partisan ideologues do that.

Yet here is Chuck Todd–who covers the White House for NBC News–explicitly arguing against investigations, and adopting the Bush/right-wing mentality to do so. Investigations are a distraction from what matters. It’s extremely unfair to hold lawyers accountable when they authorize criminal conduct. It’s “dangerous” for one administration to investigate the prior one where that prior administration had its DOJ lawyers authorize what was being done.

Wouldn’t the standard claim of establishment journalists maintain that Chuck Todd shouldn’t have (or at least not express) opinions on these topics? Yet here he is–as so many establishment journalists routinely do–explicitly advocating against investigations of Bush-era crimes. Even more notably, the arguments in favor of such investigations merit no mention whatsoever.

Reasonably asking, “Would anyone listening to this discussion even have the slightest idea what the arguments are in favor of investigating and prosecuting?,” Greenwald can only conclude that “the notion that these establishment journalists don’t choose sides and are mere honest brokers of debates is, rather obviously, transparent fiction.”

Read the FAIR magazine Extra!: “The Media Ignore Their Core Duty: Arianna Huffington & Glenn Greenwald on Media Accountability” (9-10/08).