I respected the work of two great reporters who passed away in successive days this week, Robert Novak and Don Hewitt. But what I find odd about their obituaries -- and by extension our media culture-is that Novak is identified in the obits as a conservative while Hewitt isn't labeled a liberal.
I respected both tremendously and enjoyed their work precisely because I understood that they were both fierce partisans who believed strongly in their cause and knowing that, I was able to find my own beliefs by realizing that one was preaching to me from the right and the other from the left.
The problem was that Novak owned up to his biases while Hewitt, and the media culture he was a part of, pretended he didn't have any, even as he tried to get me to be selectively outraged at the things that outraged him. He was able to push his biases both in the way he covered issues, but primarily by the stories he covered-and didn't cover.
So while I will still continue to enjoy 60 Minutes every Sunday night (or whenever I choose to fire up the TiVo,) Robert Novak a man who owned up to his biases and didn't pretend to be objective is the model for the future of journalism and Don Hewitt will be remembered along with Walter Cronkite as part of a dying breed of journalists who understood that the only way to guide America in their political direction was to pretend they were neutral and unbiased even as they injected their stories with their biases. The future belongs to reporters like Bill O'Reilly and Chris Matthews, who write and report, and wear their beliefs firmly on their sleeves and don't insult their viewers with fake objectivity.