Despite Standing O for Obama, Reporters Deny Bias of Minority Journalists

After Barack Obama’s more-than-enthusiastic greeting by many attendees at the UNITY convention for minority journalists in Chicago on Sunday, some in the media have expressed outrage that some have now questioned their objectivity, despite the appalled reactions from some of their own peers to the display and the live video shown on CNN (at right).

April Yee wrote on Andrew Romano’s blog on Newsweek.com on Monday about the question of whether minority journalists can cover the Illinois senator objectively. She quoted Ernest Suggs of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who objected to this question even coming up in the first place: "That mindset needs to change.... It is offensive that because we have the same color or the same agenda, our journalistic ethics and responsibilities go out the window."

Suggs might have a point, since two of the biggest cheerleaders for Obama in the media are white men: Lee Cowan and Chris Matthews.

Les Payne, a black Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New York City paper Newsday, is also quoted in the piece: "[Payne] said black journalists could cover Obama not just fairly, but also critically. ‘The job of the black journalist in covering Barack Obama isn't to protect Barack Obama,’ he said. ‘We have to assume then that we are not in his pocket, that we are not beholden to him, that we are not in his swoon.’"

Earlier in the blog post, Yee recounted how two journalists from the Dallas Morning News, Holly Yan and Gromer Matthew Jeffers, made a bet over how the crowd at the UNITY convention would react to Obama. She wrote that Yan, after witnessing the attendees' response, "found the enthusiasm of some of the attendees ‘grossly inappropriate.’"

Fellow NewsBuster and MRC’s director of media analysis Tim Graham wrote on Sunday about the passionate greeting Barack Obama received from many at the UNITY convention. Not only did the presumptive Democratic nominee receive standing ovations when he walked on stage and when he left, Obama received the "rock star" treatment from many of the journalists. One unnamed journalist even cried, "He touched me!"

Mr. Suggs and Mr. Payne: let the video speak for itself.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center