The picture above was apparently taken last night in Ottawa. It shows the Huffington Post’s Althia Raj and the Liberal Party’s Gerald Butts.
In my view, Butts was merely doing his job, and doing it well. But was it a good idea for Raj to get together with Butts, mere days before the debates kick off?
No. And some studies actually make that clear, too.
- Conservative voters – and the debate audience will include conservative voters – are acutely focussed on moderator bias, as seen in this Rasmussen survey. Why, then, feed that narrative?
- The danger for Raj, here, is that she can (and likely will) be now seen as having changed the debate outcome – whether she did so or not. Moderators may feel they lack that power, but voters don’t think they do.
- There is now an entire cottage industry devoted to finding and documenting media bias. It is a surprisingly sophisticated mini-industry. Raj is dreaming in technicolour (or in high definition 4K) if she thinks that the above little get-together will go unnoticed. It lit up the Internet after it came out last night; it’s still doing so.
There’s bias, and there’s appearance of bias. In a tight election race, it is stupid for a reporter to do anything that provides evidence of an appearance of bias. Particularly when there is a requirement that “high journalistic standards” be maintained in respect of the debates.
It’s always the same: people in Ottawa regularly think that everyone South of the Queensway don’t notice what they do after hours.
But we do.