Here’s another example of a reporter carefully sanitizing a left-leaning group as non-partisan. The link goes to an innuendo-filled article in the Christian Science Monitor about the Wisconsin Supreme Court election by CSM reporter Mark Guarino. Conservative David Prosser surged ahead in the vote count after 14,000 ballots were added to the state totals.
The article begins with the darkly passive “questions are being raised” formulation. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus is a Republican who used to work for Prosser, leading to suspicions the vote was manipulated. Of course, the sources Guarino cites are nearly all identified as Democrats.
Then Guarino brings in a supposedly nonpartisan group called One Wisconsin Now to cast further doubt on the revised election results.
Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, a non-partisan and non-profit advocacy group, said in a statement that his state “deserves elections that are fair, clean and transparent” and that “there is a history of secrecy and partisanship surrounding [Nickolaus] and there remain unanswered questions.”
I added the link to Scot Ross, so you’d get an idea of what a “non-partisan” looks like.
Guarino wants you to know that One Wisconsin Now is a “non-partisan and non-profit advocacy group.” But Guarino doesn’t want you to know is that it’s a left-leaning group. All he had to do was add the word “progressive” at the start of his description, and his readers would have more information about the “non-partisan” group’s political agenda — which attacks Republicans such as Prosser and supports Democrats.
A reporter committed to accuracy would let his readers know these facts. Instead, Gurarino deceives readers with a misleading half-truth.
What Guarino also doesn’t say — another example of bias by omission — is that Waukesha County’s election results were overseen by a Democratic party official who vouched for the updated results’ accuracy.
And left-leaning election analyst Nate Silver says the updated totals make sense, and the vote-counting error was caused by “incompetence,” not “conspiracy”.
Guarino pulled the same trick in an article about Obama’s plan for high-speed Internet access. The article quoted the hard-left advocacy group Free Press, describing it merely as “a nonprofit media advocacy group.” The group supports lefty causes such as funding public media, the alleged threat of media consolidation (when media is more diverse than ever — you’re reading an example right now), censorship of “hate speech” on talk shows, and a variety of government interventions in the media to advance “social justice” goals.
I wrote earlier on SD Rostra about how reporters can smuggle in their agenda by disguising a source’s bias. Add this one to your list of tricks to watch out for. And try this in your spare time — Google any institute or think tank described only as “nonpartisan,” and find out whether it has a political agenda not described in the article. Do this several times, and tally up how often the allegedly nonpartisan group is actually left-leaning, right-leaning, Libertarian, or genuinely nonpartisan.
(DISCLAIMER — This is my opinion, and not necessarily that of my employer, the North County Times.)