A Golden Rule for journalists: Objectivity is a myth but fairness is a must

Back when I was a pup of a reporter, a wise old editor at The New York Times pulled me aside after I submitted a news story with too much attitude. His name was Shelly Binn, and I’ll never forget the bright red line he drew for me.

“Nobody expects you to be objective,” he said. “That’s impossible because we all have feelings and opinions. But you have to be fair to both sides, no matter how you feel.”

There it was, a golden rule of journalism: Objectivity is a myth, fairness is a must. Obviously, the CNBC debate moderators never got the lesson.

The news business is in trouble and overt displays of media bias of the kind we witnessed Wednesday are a big reason. Technology and changing lifestyles have fractured markets and wrecked revenues, but self-inflicted wounds compound the damage.

It’s understandable that the GOP is protesting by canceling a scheduled debate that was to be sponsored by NBC. After all, there’s no law requiring the candidates to show up for the other party’s firing squad.

The moderators’ relentless badgering, arrogance and ignorance toward the GOP candidates was so bad that their performance was universally panned, no small feat at a time when the media, like everything else, is polarized. The tenor provoked astonishment over the failure of network brass to recognize the black eye coming its way.

To continue reading Michael Goodwin's column in the New York Post, click here.