NB Interview: Post’s Merida at McCain/Palin Rally Denies Media Bias

Washington Post staff writer Kevin Merida talked to NewsBusters at a rally for John McCain in Fairfax, VA and denied that the media are biased. He asserted, "I think that most journalists are really conscientious about, you know, really looking at all sides of issues and subjects." However, he did hedge that "there's always some bias in media coverage and some, just, not-terrific journalism."

When asked about intense scrutiny into the life of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Merida didn't see an issue of unfair coverage. "...She's somebody new on the scene and she's getting a lot of, you know, scrutiny, like anyone would, I think, in her position, with her background, her resume and, kind of, bursting onto the national scene in this sudden way." Asked specifically about possible double standards, such as when "Today" reporter Amy Robach speculated on September 3 about whether a Vice President Palin will "be shortchanging her kids or will she be shortchanging the country," Merida declined to comment on other media outlets.

[Audio available here.]

Speaking more generally, he added, "...She has talked about her dual role of being governor and being a mother. That's something she has touted herself. And so, I think, you know, quite naturally, you kind of, people would want to examine how those two roles fit together and I don't think that necessarily connotes any bias."

In 2008, Merida co-wrote "Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas." A June 20, 2007 MRC CyberAlert called it an "unsympathetic biography" of the Supreme Court judge. To read his September 11 recounting of Sarah Palin's star reception at the Virginia event, see the Washington Post.

A transcript of the September 11 interview follows:

McCain/Palin rally in Van Dyke Park, Fairfax, VA

NEWSBUSTERS' SCOTT WHITLOCK: Do you think the media has been biased in its coverage of Sarah Palin and her- the announcement of her nomination?

KEVIN MERIDA (Washington Post staff writer): Uh, no. I don't, actually.

WHITLOCK: You don't think there's any sort of double standard in terms of questions about whether she could be both a mother and a vice presidential candidate?

MERIDA: I think it's hard always to generalize about the media. I mean, I look at- I try to do my own work in a nuanced way. I think that most journalists are really conscientious about, you know, really looking at all sides of issues and subjects. And so, I'm not saying that there's not been, you know, you know, somewhere, some story, in some places, some outlets that might have been, you know, biased. Biased toward her, biased against McCain, biased toward Obama, biased towards Biden. You know, there's always some bias in media coverage and some, just, not-terrific journalism. But, I think that, to, kind of, make a blanket generalization that there's been, you know, biased coverage. I think that people are- You know, she's somebody new on the scene and she's getting a lot of, you know, scrutiny, like anyone would, I think, in her position, with her background, her resume and, kind of, bursting onto the national scene in this sudden way.

WHITLOCK: Okay, I mean, for example, I was referring to last week on the "Today" show, Amy Robach, one of the reporters, asked if Sarah Palin was going to shortchange her kids or shortchange the country.

MERIDA: Well, you know, I guess, not to duck your question, but, I mean, I can't comment on other, you know, on other networks and other journalists questions and how they're persuing the story. I think, in general, you know, she has talked about her dual role of being governor and being a mother. That's something she has touted herself. And so, I think, you know, quite naturally, you kind of, people would want to examine how those two roles fit together and I don't think that necessarily connotes any bias.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org