We asked our readers to nominate which journalists were the most biased, and from that list we asked them to vote last week on which journalists from a list showed the most bias. This is the result. Actually, political pundit Bill Ballenger was tied with Bell for third place, but I am exercising my power as the unofficial media critic at MM to cast my tie-breaking vote for Bell. However, I will play closer attention to Ballenger.
The voter turnout was a little disappointing, but it's certainly consistent with the voter turnout we see for general elections; and it was even better than most primary elections. When you consider that only about a quarter of the registered voters actually decide who is going to run the state, the 43 votes cast in this informal poll isn't all that bad.
Finley was the big winner - or loser depending on your point of view - with 27 percent of the vote, followed by Beckman with 25 percent of the vote and Bell and Ballenger with 16 percent. Also receiving votes were Tim Skubick with three votes; George Weeks, two votes and Murray Feldman with one vote. In the comments section I also received write in votes for Chris Christoff, the Detroit Free Press Lansing bureau chief; Chad Selewski of the Macomb Daily; nationally known sports writer, best-selling author and radio host Mitch Albom; and Detroit News columnist Laura Berman.
Among the other comments I received was that I was concentrating only on conservative media bias. My answer to that is that the myth that has been floated around since the 1970s is that the media is liberally biased, but that is simply not true. I am pointing out the predominant bias of the mainstream media. An argument was also made that some of our slate of candidates are not journalists. However, anyone who conveys information to the public fits our definition of a journalist.
Finley is a columnist and the editorial page editor of the Detroit News, and as a columnist he is expressing his opinion, which by its very nature is biased. But it's clear where his bias lays. It's very hard to find bias in the newspaper's straight stories, but as the editorial page editor, it follows Finley's bias that sets the tone for the entire newspaper. Clearly, his biggest obsession is Gov. Jennifer Granholm. He seems to blame her for everything but the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. He must not be aware that the governor, any governor, cannot influence macroeconomic activity through the two most important factors: monetary policy and fiscal policy.
In a recent column about the governor's leadership on the budget situation, he used a quote in a column he said was from Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township: "Why doesn't she take control of these negotiations?" asks Dillon, and then answered, "Because she doesn't have leadership instincts."
When called out on the source of the quote, Finley changed the online version and attributed the quote it its rightful owner; Granholm opponent, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester.
According to the Detroit News official bio, Finley is the "Editorial Page Editor of The Detroit News, a position he's held since May 1, 2000. He directs the expression of the newspaper's editorial position on various national and local issues, and also writes a column in the Sunday newspaper. Prior to that, Finley was the newspaper's Deputy Managing Editor, directing the newsroom. Previously, he served as Business Editor, and in various editing positions on the city, state and metro desks. He was also a reporter, covering Detroit City Hall during the Coleman Young administration. Finley has been with the newspaper since 1976, starting as a copy boy in the newsroom while a student at Wayne State University.
Beckman hosts a show on conservative talk radio station WJR weekdays from 9-11:30 a.m., and he is an occasional columnist for the Detroit News. He shares a similar obsession with Finely for the governor while claiming he is fair and balanced and looking out for us. He seems to be a Bill O'Reilly wannabe with a rather large ego. His bias seems to fit in at WJR, and it's a mystery how the most powerful radio station in a state that has been blue since 1992 located in one of the most liberal cities in America can get way with not having one non-conservative voice on the air.
Beckman drew the ire of progressives in early October when he taped an interview with the governor for replay later in the day, and then he allegedly used a YouTube clip supplied by a conservative blog from an old debate about a completely different topic to accuse the governor of lying to the public about tax increases.
Bell covers Lansing and politics for the Detroit Free Press, and he is the only reporter on the list. Finding bias in a straight news story is difficult, but bias there can cause the most damage because it is not so obvious. Bell helped start the "ipod for every student in Michigan" controversary last spring when he mistakenly wrote in a story that House Democrats were proposing a $58 million line item to buy every student an ipod that was really for new technology. Republicans made hay with that line, and it continues today.
Ballenger is one of the most well-known and respected political pundits in the state. According to his official biography as the former Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government at Central Michigan University, Ballenger "…is a former (Republican) state representative and state senator, an ex-state racing commissioner and director of the Michigan Department of Licensing & Regulation. Mr. Ballenger also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare in the administration of President Gerald R. Ford." He also writes and publishes the newsletter "Inside Michigan Politics," and he is a regular panelist on the political talk TV show "Off the Record."