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Fix Pick: On Reporters and Voting

This week's Potomac Primary brought to the fore one of the most contentious questions in the world of political journalism: Should reporters vote?

Almost every political reporter for the major newspapers, magazines and cable television outlets calls Virginia, Maryland or D.C. home (The Fix is a Virginian through and through), meaning that each one of us was faced with a choice when we got up Tuesday morning -- to vote or not to vote?

The Politico's top brass -- former Post reporters/editors John Harris, Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen -- penned a piece on Tuesday aimed at explaining the motivations behind why they do (Harris), don't (Allen) and sometimes do/sometimes don't (VandeHei).

Here's a quick summary of their reasoning, although you should read the whole piece:

Allen: "I'm part of a minority school of thought among journalists that we owe it to the people we cover, and to our readers, to remain agnostic about elections, even in private. I figure that if the news media serve as an (imperfect) umpire, neither team wants us taking a few swings."

VandeHei: "Politico does not cover local elections or school boards, so I see no reason to sit on the sidelines in those decisions. In spirit of full disclosure, I don't register as a Republican or Democrat when I do cast those votes."

Harris: "My belief is that being a journalist for an ideologically neutral publication like Politico, or the Washington Post, where I used to work, does not mean having no opinions. It means exercising self-discipline in the public expression of those opinions so as not to give sources and readers cause to question someone's commitment to fairness."

The Fix is a non-voter -- for a few reasons.

First, I generally agree with Mike Allen's point that neutral means neutral; objectivity in covering these races means that you stay objective before, during and after the contests.

As, or perhaps more, importantly, however, is the obsession among some people to sniff out a reporter's "secret" political leanings. Time and time again, I find people commenting on this blog and elsewhere accusing me of having a pro-Clinton or pro-Obama or pro-McCain or pro-someone else viewpoint. I know in my hearts of hearts that I don't have any of those biased viewpoints, but if I did vote -- even in a local or county election -- it would add fuel to the fire of those folks who think I am a secret partisan.

Again, I refer to Mike Allen:

"Putting aside the sound reasons for remaining electorally pure on behalf of our sources and readers, it's a great dodge. People make all kinds of inaccurate assumptions about the personal views of reporters. I can always say: I don't vote -- and you can look it up."

And yet, though I don't vote, I also find myself agreeing with Harris (a Fix mentor) that it is absolutely absurd to think that simply by not voting reporters can somehow convince their readers that they are without opinion. "A journalist can cast votes and have opinions, even strong ones, and still be fair," writes Harris. "We do it by letting people have their say, by not putting our thumb on the scale with loaded language, and by having the modesty as reporters to admit that information is always fragmentary and it is our role to tell stories but not to pretend that we are society's High Court of Truth."

I have opinions about any numbers of candidates and their respective strategies -- you can read them in the Friday Line or in my regular winners and losers posts after big events in the political world. Opinions aren't harmful in journalism; having the same opinions time and time again based on some sort of root partisanship is.

The Fix is interested in your thoughts on this issue. Do you care whether reporters vote? Or is it a meaningless -- and circular -- debate captivating only to the small group of us who cover these races for a living? The comments section is awaiting your thoughts.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 14, 2008; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks  
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Posted by: gnsjblray egal | April 16, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: gnsjblray egal | April 16, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: gnsjblray egal | April 16, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: gnsjblray egal | April 16, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

The idea that I should only trust a political reporter who doesn't vote is stupid and anti-democratic. The only reason not to vote is if you are unable to decide which candidate is best-qualified to fulfil the duties of the job in the best interests of the country.

Where I would draw the line is if you would place bets on the outcome of an election you are reporting on. It would be wrong of you to bet $1000 on X winning the nomination and then write about X's strengths as a candidate.

Posted by: b.carlin | February 18, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I am 81 years old, a retired paralegal. I have voted in every election in which I could cast a vote from school board elections, local elections, state elections and national elections. I am also a first generation American, meaning that both of my parents were immigrants. You can register to vote as NON ALIGNED (or whatever other descriptive term a Board of Elections has) but Voting is an absolute right that should be exercised. Shame on you for not voting! Your choices are private and personal and they are VERY important. The world has too many countries where what you think or how you would like to vote is irrelevant. This country, fortunately, is not one of them

Posted by: rbergero | February 17, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I think you should vote.

1) I learned in high school journalism that no human can be expected to be totally without bias. Often, as with teachers and professors, as well as authors and analysts, I find it more useful to know what their biases are so I can handicap what they say, rather than pretending they're 100% bias-free. National Journal and the Almanac of American Politics have a little bit of a conservative or Republican bias. The authors have admitted this, as one did at a bookstore event I attended. I'd always picked up on this bias anyway from being familiar with their work, which is excellent, but I found it validating and helpful to know that this bias really did exist, subtle though it is. I thus calibrate my interpretations of their work with that in mind.

2) The conspiracy theorists are always going to accuse you of bias no matter what you do. We all know conspiracy theories perpetuate themselves by assimilating every new piece of evidence as one in favor of the theory. It's a game of illogic you can't win and shouldn't bother trying. If anything, my response would be to pit them against each other. The sort of thing I do on my blog is to say: Ok, you guys think I'm biased to the left, you other guys think I'm biased to the right; why don't you get together and work out what my bias really is, then come back to me with that.

3) Voting is a civic duty. In Australia it's a legal duty--what about Australian reporters? Does that law undermine their journalistic objectivity or integrity? Should they break it and pay the $100 fine every election? Moreover, how many people are more informed about the candidates and races, what's at stake and who's most likely to do what, than those who cover them most closely? We know that every vote counts, and given how many people cast irrational, uninformed votes, or none at all, it seems an almost unjustifiable waste for reporters not to vote.

4) I've long believed that the media focuses on itself too much in the media (Newseum??). To an extent, this is to be expected as a natural product of human nature and a competitive free market, and some of the pressures and reactions journalists get make it necessary to a degree. I've been following politics for pushing 20 years now, and I've never thought or bothered to ask or look up whether or how a journalist voted. Democracy is unlike, and dare I say more important than, Hoyas basketball; the umpires have to participate too.

Posted by: jon.morgan.1999 | February 17, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I think it is decision each reporter has to make for themselves. I did not vote on Super Tuesday because I would have had to chose which party to caucus for, and as a journalism student and journalist, I did not want that on the record. However, I vote every November because it is my duty as a citizen to be involved in the government. I can also choose to be registered as belonging to neither party.

Posted by: cutiechicky | February 16, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

The more people that vote, the more our government truly represents the people. I can understand not voting in a primary or caucus where you must identify your party of choice or parties may have different locations to voice your opinion. But in a general election (of any kind) everyone votes in the same place regardless of party. I say change your mind and vote. You certainly know the candidates well enough. I read your blog because this is one place where I can find unbiased analysis - and that wouldn't change if I knew your party affiliation.

Posted by: adbaines | February 15, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I might be naive, but I don't know how anyone could find out how a reporter voted. It is supposed to be a secret ballot. Vote, but stay objective in reporting.

Posted by: jangobounty9703 | February 15, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

The idea that ANY one in America should not vote is ridiculous. Like it or note, everyone is a rolemodel to someone. Given your rather public position, I'd wager you are a rolemodel to quite a few people. So what kind of example are you setting by saying "It's ok for me not to vote"?

I support a kids voting project, which places polling booths for kids in their parents polling places. Their vote might not determine an office, but at least the kids learn about participating in democracy. Journalists writing about their "duty" not to vote could delete my work in just a few paragraphs.

You don't have to vote for a candidate. Vote present. Vote uncommitted. Vote none of the above. Write in a name. Write in YOUR name, if you like. But at least set an example and

Posted by: hjackson05 | February 15, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Vote for change. Hope for the future.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I believe that this debate is one the general public would scoff at if they knew it existed. Reporters dig and dig and expect everyone else to be transparent and forthcoming, but they will hide their political leanings in the furthest shadows possible under some mistaken notion that revealing them will hurt their credibility.

This is one of many examples of how the media simply does not understand or does not want to acknowledge the vast and often legitimate cries of bias. It can't be us; it must be the silly public who looks up our voting record and then reads our stuff and then accuses us of a bias we certainly don't have! It misses the point entirely ... and I guarantee you the public isn't going around looking up reporters' records before judging their work.

Be transparent, as you expect others to be. Be accountable. If you get complaints of bias, consider whether they're valid. If not, throw them out. Reporters not voting or registering a party affiliation isn't fooling anyone. It's just downright silly and, to use a politicized word that I think applies here, potentially un-American--especially if you're an editor or publisher who admonishes your reporters not to vote. On this latter point, I think the public would be even more aghast if they knew of this practice.

Posted by: LAH2 | February 15, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I had to go to a meeting. Just got back. So, I scolled up to see what I missed...


Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 15, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"You've confirmed my suspicions that you not only have a very limited vocaublary, but that you are also illiterate. Because you obviously haven't read this thread.

You feminazis are all the same. Stick together, hate men, and pull the victim woman card every time you've lost an argument."

Moron, I'm not arguing with you, I'm having fun at your expense. Big difference.

Stick together? If only you knew how stupid you look? Hint: REALLY stupid. One day maybe you'll learn not to follow the lead of a slug like mibrooks.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"picking on a girl"? Ha ha ha.

You've confirmed my suspicions that you not only have a very limited vocaublary, but that you are also illiterate. Because you obviously haven't read this thread.

You feminazis are all the same. Stick together, hate men, and pull the victim woman card every time you've lost an argument.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Some mature, intelligent people you all are.

Posted by: Blarg | February 15, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse


I'd think you could vote and still be 'fair and balanced'. Just think of all the foreign media members who lean hard left--the ability to vote (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with being fair. Unless you are trying to achieve some sort of academic distance from the process, I'd say go ahead and vote...

Posted by: seannewengland | February 15, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Some marine you are, picking on a girl (drindl).


Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Some feminazi you are. Pathetic.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

That's right Claudia

Play the victimized woman role. "I've just stopped talking to him".


After all the sh** you talk.

Hillary must be your girl. Cry me a river.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"As for gays, I have several freinds who are and they would be very surprised to find that I am somehow inherently afraid of homosexuals ("homophobe")."

Idiot, did you really just say that some of your best friends are gay? LOLOL

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

spectator. that guy is totally nuts. i'd just give up talking to him. the mikes are both violent and paranoid--serious anger management issues, to say the least, and we are both wasting our time replying to them.

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

You are a citizen first and a reporter second. I think the "don't vote" position smacks of elitism (i.e. "I'm above all this") and cowardice. Certainly voting and reporting posses certain dilemmas. But is that your duty as a reporter to deal with rather than flee them?

Posted by: garth | February 15, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"The sort of gay and feminist activists who engage in cultural warfare for the sake of disrupting civil society are the sort of rabid dogs that engage in school shootings."

Wow. Another classic from the sickest poster on the board, mibrooks.

USMC_Mike: You're not sick, just stupid.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Spectator is a woman?

That makes sense!

It explains why she immediately, and rabidly, rushed to defend her fellow feminazi drindle.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Spectator2 - I loathe radical YOU...but that isn't the same thing as hating women. Most people detest the NOW crowd. As for gays, I have several freinds who are and they would be very surprised to find that I am somehow inherently afraid of homosexuals ("homophobe"). The sort of gay and feminist activists who engage in cultural warfare for the sake of disrupting civil society are the sort of rabid dogs that engage in school shootings. Now, please go away unless you have something intelligent to contribute.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 15, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse


BamBam is up 6 points in a new Texas poll. I don't trust these polls at all, but I confess a lingering weakness for them.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"I am a self identified moderate liberal."

Please, you embarrass yourself with such remarks. You're a gay-basher and a woman-hater. So you can call yourself whatever you want, but you just look silly when you use such inappropriate terms.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"wpost: These droolers don't seem understand that the Framers were able to separate their private beliefs from their job of creating a system of government.

Some of them probably enjoyed wearing ladies' undergarments, but there's no protection for cross-dressers in the Constitution."

Well, Spec, I don't consider anyone here a drooler (save any precocious 2 year-olds that might be tapping away). Just folks who care about their country, their lives and their future and who are trying to figure it out best they can. Assume the best of others, even when they rant, and you never know if what you say may influence them one day in the future...even against their own expectations. I believe the human mind usually responds to what's reasonable...however fast or slow.
After all, almost all violence comes from fear and fear from ignorance.

Enlighten. Yourself and others.

As for cross-dressing, I believe the Constitution supports that the private sphere. The difficulty comes in the public sphere. Or in the private/public work-a-day world.

I am as opposed to the the right imposing their religious beliefs on me as I'm opposed to the left imposing their social guilts.

We've got King George and his court jesters, Pelosi and Reid, doling out cash like Roman emperors doled out bread at the Colisseum.

We are off track...left and right wheels. Hillary and McCain are only spare tires and won't get us out of the rut and onto the road to the future.

We need someone smart, true, steady.

An American original. His name is Obama.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"PS, you and drindle have called me a gunworshiper.

I don't own one."

Please, devildog, the two are not mutually exclusive. How silly of you to be discussing such important topics when your logical thinking appears to be at a first-grade level.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I would trust that the Fix's vote, even if it's different than mine, was based on sound reasoning rather than what passes for judgment among many of my other fellow citizens.

I was a reporter for 20 years and wrestled with this dilemma. I was often surprised by just how overtly partisan some of my colleagues were, some of them being registered members of political parties and making campaign contributions.

I voted because it would be painful to abdicate my small say in the process, but I registered as a Whig. Since we haven't had a candidate since 1856, the county clerk classified my party affiliation as "Miscellaneous."

It's laudable that you hold yourself to such a high standard that you would give up a chance to personally participate in the process, but I agree with John Harris on this, everyone has opinions, it's up to you to temper your writing so as to remain objective, but disenfranchising yourself doesn't accomplish that goal.

Posted by: tool4theman | February 15, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

AdrickHenry: Gotcha. We're on the same page.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Spectator2, seriously, you need help. Your daily hysterical rants are getting tiresome, but the amount of genuine hatred and willful ignorance you demonstrate makes you dangerous to yourself and others. USMC_Mike is, I believe, a self identified conservative. I am a self identified moderate liberal. We post post our opinions and use and cite facts to back them up. When you disagree with them, instead of reason and agrument, you resort to immature name calling, rabid hatred, dishonest attributions, and juvinile rants. I have yet to see anything of worth contributed by you on this forum, or elsewhere. Please, just go away. Find a good psychologist and work to make your life have some sort of meaning.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 15, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Of COURSE reporters should vote. If the ideal voter is an informed citizen, then reporters are exactly the people we want to vote. Educated and informed opinions are based on of a weighing of the facts. If we trust the American public to vote based on the information they were given, we should definitely trust journalists--who gathered and delivered the information in the first place.

Posted by: | February 15, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

wpost4112, I think we are in agreement.

What I was trying to convey about Islam being hard to beat as theocracy was not that I think this is a good thing, but rather, that in states like Iran or Saudi Arabia, Islam IS the government.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 15, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

right on, wpost4112...

...although not Thomas Hobbes as he was for an authoritarian form of government as evidenced by his major work "Leviathan" published in 1651.

But DEFINITELY John Locke. His "Two Treatises on Government", published in 1690, was taken literally by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 15, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Great discussion.

I'd rather know where a reporter stands. Life experience tells me that hidden agendas are more powerful, and people can be more easily manipulated by them, than with open agendas. If a journalist has a point of view, own it, then maintain your standards for impartiality.

Posted by: LesterOR | February 15, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"Two droolers of the highest order.

are gun worshippers. A couple of pervert freaks."

Your anger is only out-done by your profound lack of vocabulary necessary to express it.

PS, you and drindle have called me a gunworshiper.

I don't own one.

I borrow one or two highly lethal weapons systems from Uncle Sam on occation, but that's only for making sure underdeveloped vocabularies such as your own have the freedom to continue your ignorance.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Hard to beat Islam as Theocracy? Hard to support that with the facts, given that "infidels" haven't a chance, nor do women.

Theocracy of any sort is hardly defensible as a human legal or governing institution since it relies upon reading the mind of God...history proves we're not good at that.

Religion is personal and belongs in the home.

Rule of law based on precedent and human reason is all we need to govern ourselves publicly.

As Benjamin Franklin noted, if all so-called Christians (and no doubt he would include all religions) paid more attention to the 10 commandments in their personal lives than to religious holidays in the public realm, we'd all be a lot better off.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

When I was referring to the Founding Fathers I was not singling out Jefferson -- just speaking generally.

The Constitution is an Enlightenment document. The ideas of the Enlightenement are what powered the thinking of the Founding Fathers, particularly, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his work entitled "Social Contract".

The Enlightenement thinkers called themselves Philosophes and were generally opposed to organized religion. They were very tolerant; quite unlike many of the far-right religious fundamentalists of today.

I am speaking in general terms here, so no need to get upset.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 15, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

wpost: These droolers don't seem to understand that the Framers were able to separate their private beliefs from their job of creating a system of government.

Some of them probably enjoyed wearing ladies' undergarments, but there's no protection for cross-dressers in the Constitution.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Actually, if you do the research, the founding father were more imbued with the secular philosophy of Locke and Hobbes than Judeo-Christianity.

They were well aware that religiosity had no place in modern government. Historically, it only led to non-rational societies driven by feart and superstition.

It does however have a place in the home.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Now how will mibrooks vote for someone like Obama? This should be interesting.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Ironically, Islam is also Judeo-Christian at its core. The Muslims just added a 3rd Book: the Koran.

For real theocracy, it is hard to beat Islam.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 15, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"This is hilarious

Milbrooks points out a verifiable fact.

Spectator calls him "a misogynist and homophobe" in retaliation.

How dare you disagree with your facts!

Stupid lib."

What is hilarious is how moronic you and mibrooks are. Two droolers of the highest order.

Drindl may or not be a state worshipper, but you sickos are gun worshippers. A couple of pervert freaks.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

New Texas poll.

Statewide: Hill 49/ Barack 41
Dallas: Hill 42/ Barack 41

Very bad news for Billary. But, in fairness, there's still the debate.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Vote with your heart.

Vote for a cause.

Vote for hope.


Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

drindl, more ignorance? Thomas Jefferson was very much a Christian, with a capital "C"! He was, in fact, an Episcopalian, and made provisions in his will for the constructiuon of more than a dozen churches. People keep pointing to Jefferson's belief's as if they were fixed and never evolved. This isn't true of anyone, but some zealots apparently think it ought to be so. He was raised an Episcopalian; in mid-life became something of a deist and returned to protestant Christianity late in life. Jefferson came to be distrustful of organized churches and believed in a "primative" version of the church, unfettered of politics. He liked the early Unitarian chruch. In a letter to James Smith, 12/08/1822, he wrote: " my gratification with your efforts for the revival of primitive Christianity in your quarter. No historical fact is better established, than that the doctrine of one God, pure and uncompounded, was that of the early ages of Christianity; and was among the efficacious doctrines which gave it triumph over the polytheism of the ancients, sickened with the absurdities of their own theology. Nor was the unity of the Supreme Being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but by the sword of civil government..."

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 15, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

This is hilarious

Milbrooks points out a verifiable fact.

Spectator calls him "a misogynist and homophobe" in retaliation.

How dare you disagree with your facts!

Stupid lib.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Former President George H.W. Bush will endorse John McCain in Texas on Monday, Republican officials said.

Read my lips, No new taxes. Unless you vote for a Dem.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | February 15, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The personal religious beliefs of the "Founders" is not important.

The fact is, the ideas, the concepts, that are at the core of our society, our civilization, are Judeo-Christian in nature.

They're certainly not Muslim.

Why is that important? In a way, I suppose it's not. But the liberal secularists want to re-write history and push all mention of God out of public.

Did you know one of the first congresses advocated a national day of prayer? I doubt that would happen today, because religion has been so iscolated by the left.

I don't think we should call ourselves the Christian States of America. I'm not defending that idea. If you have to force me to defend it in order to argue, it shows you haven't really got much on your side.

The idea that rights come from our Creator, rather than our government, is unique to the world, and something we should be proud of and acknowledge, not some relic of our history we should shamefully cram to the pages of forgotten or re-written history.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

And in November, we shall overthrow our own self-appointed, self-delusional ersatz "King" George and his dark Prince, Dick.

Hopefully it will be a return to a citizen leader, Barack Obama, who will unite a divided and depressed nation yearning to make something better of itself and return vigor, courage and decency to these united states.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

And once again, we have self-proclaimed liberal and Democrat mibrooks jumping in on the side of the far-right conservative Republican.

Not surprising, since brooks is also a misogynist and homophobe.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

This is a pretty well-read board and I'll bet most of you already know that most of the Founding Fathers were "Deists". They believed in GOD, but did not think that He was active in our daily affairs.

When they wrote the Constitution, they abhorred the idea of a strong executive with a standing army.

They thought a powerful executive with a standing army would take the nation into needless wars...

This is why they fought, and many died, to overthrow a King.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 15, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse


The SIEU endorsement came through.

Huge help for Barack...yes, even in spite of what happened in Nevada.

Will now be difficult for Edwards to back Hillary...not that it will stop him if he really wants the AG spot under her administration.

If he does endorse Hillary, he will reveal the hypocrisy of his campaign platform against the status quo.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all??

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

A synopsis of the day, and lessons learned arguing with a lib:

JD: based on drindle's comments, she is probably not a gun-owner

drindle: Government doesn't grant us the 'right' to own guns, but the 'privilege', reserved for a select few.

Mike: The 2nd Amendment is not a 'privilege', it is a 'right'. Liberals believe rights come from government; conservatives believe them to be innate.

drindle: Mike is...

a gun-worshipping radical rightwing nut

a wingnut crank



buddyboy (no, I am not, and never will be, your 'buddy')

a dittohead


a knuckledragger

a caveman

...because he doesn't agree with me!


Once again, employ your standard liberal argument technique:

*Don't refute an argument or an idea, but attack your opponent.
*Dress him down and dehumanize him.
*Show him as dumb, unadvanced, and delusional.
*Present yourself as enlightened, evolved, and sophisticated.
*Ignore all history, facts, or truth
*Re-state, with conviction, your assertions. Evidence is unnecessary.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Ignorance runs amuck! drindl and other leftists never cease in their attempt to rewrite history and law. A National Guard and a citizen militia are not the same thing. A National Guard is equippeed by public funds, they serve under professional leadership for a fixed period of time (an enlistment). A citizen militia is a volunteer group with popularly elected leaders, privately supplied weapons and equipment. This has long been defined under U.S. law and it is unbelievable that people publicly parade their ignorance around. Please see U.S. Code: Title 10,311, "Militia: composition and classes", section b:
"(b) The classes of the militia are--
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia".

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 15, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Christian nation? Huh? Not so.

We are a nation of laws.

The notion of a Christian nation is itself balsphemous and non-religious.

The basis of religion is belief..belief which is freely given..not coerced by law.

Render unto to Caesar, etc.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

wpost4112 -- well said

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

claudia, attacking Jefferson doesn't mean he didn't write what he wrote. Go look it up. I'd like to see you occupied for the next 36 days.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

NO dittohead, we are not a Christian nation. Just because you wish it don't make it so.

Thomas Jefferson wrote a version of the Bible where Christ had no supernatural powers, he was just a good and decent man, so I wouldn't refer to him when talking up a christian nation idea. Go back and read the Constitution, if you can read.

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Our "rights" neither come from nor are gauranteed by the Constitution.

Our basic rights are inalienable and come from our very existence (or, if you must, from our "creator").

It is to protect those rights and allow for a "more perfect union" that we, all of us, surrender complete freedom of action and agree to a contract of behavior and laws: our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

And should the governance we have imposed upon ourselves ever egregiously fail the both the spirit and particulars of that contract, we are morally obliged to rip that contract asunder and form a new one.

WE are the power. WE. And that power resides in one thing alone: our VOTE.

The Constitution is not divine. It is a human contract written for a particular serve our needs...the need for a civil society which helps us to protect our lives, our liberties and our pursuits of happiness.

It's US!

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

'You are obviously an intellectual giant.'

coming from you, that's the funniest thing I've heard all day, caveman.

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Is it important to you that the nation express the religious beliefs that you have?"

I think you and I agree.

I think we are a Christian nation, founded on Christian values.

But that doesn't require us to mix Church and state, nor to proclaim our Christianity as a nation.

It does guarantee that I can worship as I wish. In public, no less.

Thomas Jefferson's "Wall of separation between Church and State", in its original context, was a guarantee of protection *FOR* the Church, *FROM* the State.

Today, people believe it to be the other way around. Thanks to the 1947 Everson Supreme Court Case, prior to which, the Supreme Court had actually declared "WE ARE A CHRISTIAN NATION".

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

You still don't get it.

Our rights don't "COME FROM" the constitution.

Or the government.

They are "GUARANTEED BY" it.

That's the purpose of the consitution. And government.

You are obviously an intellectual giant.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Anyone and any organization claiming nonpartisanship, whether reporting or working for a cause, is deluding only themselves. I would rather see institutions just claim to be intellectually and factually honest.

True objectivity is only possible among the ignorant. and people ignorant of a subject have little of value to report.

Making political preference public where it exists might help reestablish credibility within the news industry.

I reject the idea that honest reporters can't report honestly and fairly, regardless of political outlook. Party affiliations could be part of "full disclosure" statements kept aside but always available for readers to see, if desired. This solves more problems regarding credibility than it creates. And obviously full disclosure is absolutely necessary when opinions are employed in a story.

And with broad news and communications from scores of sources available to nearly everyone who wants it, this is where we're headed anyway, like it or not.

Now- all that said, luckily I don't have to make any money in this business.


Posted by: bbuc | February 15, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Standard liberal elitism:

"there are enough rabid gun nuts out there that I will never have to worry about guarding that privilige myself."

I don't have to bother with such a lowly task as protecting our rights. That's what the other people are for. The common folks. The grungy, sweaty, blue-collars.

Us liberal elites have bigger fish to fry. We have to save the planet from this wasteful, consumer-driven, polluting, imperialist nation of ours that never lifted a finger for the rest of the world.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

mike, your standard issue gun-worshipping radical rightwing nut--

'To a liberal, there is no higher power than the State.'

to a wingnut crank, there is no higher power than his own selfishness and delusion. frankly yes, i am quite grateful for the constitution, and for my freedoms which are guarantted by the constitution. go live in China buddyboy and tell me how God gives you your freedom.

--you left out some, dittohead:

'A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'

your 'right' to own a gun is not inherent to you by the nature of your humanity, [or lack of it in your case] nor is it gifted to you by God.

instead, you have to fight for it. and you have laws to enforce it. and God doesn't belong in the public square in a pluralistic society either. whose god? we are guaranteed freedom from religion as well as freedom to worship.

knuckledragger mike apparently doesn't love his country. without government and laws and courts and the constitution, buddboy, you would not have a country nor would you have freedom. you'd be lving in a dictatorship like much of the world does.

by the way, i guess since you hate the government so much, you must really hate the way they spy on your phone calls and emails, right?

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

That must explain why a state-worshiping liberal like drooling drindle so fanatically pushes God out of society -- push God out of our money, out of our pledge, and out of our public square. After all, who is God compared to the state, which has given us our freedom, our protection, and our rights?

Mike, I believe in God, but I don't feel a need for my belief in God to be proclaimed by the nation I live in. I expect that the nation I live in will not infringe on my right to have and express those beliefs, though.

Is it important to you that the nation express the religious beliefs that you have?

Posted by: rpy1 | February 15, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: abutterbutt | February 15, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I believe you owe more to your country than you do to your readers, and that your obligation as an American transcends any journalistic responsibility.

Nobody gave their life, Chris, so that you could trade your vote for your voice.

And, regarding Harris' quote about exercising self-discipline...might want to step up those exercises John. I hope Froomkin at least got a chuckle out of that...I know I did.

Posted by: jack_stone_97124 | February 15, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Reporters can vote whenever and for whomever as long as they stick to the straight-and-narrow in their stories.

Posted by: parkerfl | February 15, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Voting does not create preferences one way or another. It is simply an expression of preferences. The preference still exists whether you actualize it or not. I think it is impossible to actually be objective, everything we do intellectually is predicated on certain premises and beliefs we already have. Even ideas of what is true from a journalistic perspective is colored by our initial beliefs. I think reporters have a greater obligation to explore their own preference sets and share those with their readers. Then we might have a clearer picture of how they create and engage the stories they are sharing with us.

More thoughts on this issue:

Posted by: usfjonny | February 15, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

drindle, your standard state-worshiping liberal:

"I do not worry about losing my 'precious' [2nd Amendment] right. Which, by the way, I don't consider a right... but rather a privilege..."

Nevermind that the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution reads "the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

To a liberal, there is no higher power than the State.

Our rights (or "privaleges") are not inherent to us by the nature of our humanity, nor are they gifted to us by God.

Our rights are merely indulgences of the State - and we should be thankful that our benevolent State has so graciously given them to us.

Perhaps, as a token of my gratitude to the State which has given me so much, I ought to pay higher taxes, as a sort of sacrafice to a higher power. After all, the State has given me so much, why shouldn't I willingly return the favor?

That must explain why a state-worshiping liberal like drooling drindle so fanatically pushes God out of society -- push God out of our money, out of our pledge, and out of our public square. After all, who is God compared to the state, which has given us our freedom, our protection, and our rights?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Ha Mike, funny, I was just going to comment about that. No gun owner that I know (including myself), and I know a ton of them, would *ever* make a joke about that.

Posted by: JD | February 15, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Come on, claudia, you have to appreciate the use of the word "stoked" on a website for coal. That's actually funny!

Posted by: rpy1 | February 15, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"The candidates are not pretending to be nuetral.

Exactly. They pretend to be biased.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"If the candidates themselves can vote, then why not the journalists?"

This is incredibly poor logic.

The candidates are not pretending to be nuetral.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I believe it's everyone's civic duty to vote. Including reporters -- especially one who is well informed about the candidates and the issues. Voting in an election does not mean you don't handle your job appropriately and be objective. But it sets a bad example and a poor precedent for others. Vote!

Posted by: brianflem23 | February 15, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

If the candidates themselves can vote, then why not the journalists? Of course they should be able to vote. If you are citizen and you are eligible to vote, then you should vote.

Posted by: jimoneill50 | February 15, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

If you believe change can't happen if we do nothing,

Vote Obama

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Best news of the day:

the band BOSTON endorses Obama.

Just makes me smile.

Cause Barack is MORE THAN A FEELING!

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

claudia -- it's very nice of your government to afford you that privalege.

I'm sure you're quite thankful. Tell me, does your privalege to post on the Fix, go where you please, and even live, come from your benevolent government as well?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

There are many good reasons for not voting, but I believe not voting because you cover politics is not one of them. The human mind is an incredibly flawed instrument. You have a bias. Sometimes you're work will be neutral, sometimes biased and sometimes you may overcompensate against your bias. Your bias will also change with time. All you can do is your best to remain neutral. Voting or not voting doesn't affect that.

Obviously registering with a party, working for a candidate and/or showing up on an election financing report would taint your work.

Posted by: caribis | February 15, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

claudia: look no further than mibrooks for an example of what happens when a mentally deranged individual goes off his meds.

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 15, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

claudialong - Early reports are that the shooter was a non-citizen Russian immigrant and was mentally ill. He had been taking medication and stopped taking it "a few" weeks ago **becasue he had no job, no insurance, and couldn't afford it**! Two points here. First, non-citizens have no right to own firearms and should be prevented from possessing them. The person or store who sold him those guns, or from whom they were stolen becasue they weren't securely locked up, needs to be prosecuted. Second, lack of health care for everyone in this country is insane and dangerous for all of us. One way or another we all pay when anyone goes without health care.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 15, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

it's hard to imagine anything that's more hilarious and pathetic at the same time... oh yeah, so many kids want to find out more--and get 'stoked' about --coal:

"Americans For Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) -- the coal industry front group that has sponsored multiple presidential debates and whose members paid for an advertisement comparing the governor of Kansas to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- has sunk to new lows.

On a website,, ABEC uses cute young children to make the case for coal. Upon loading the site, viewers may encounter a cheerful "Daniella" who says, "I may be a kid, but we're a lot alike. We both want affordable, reliable energy and a clean environment! Well, luckily, we can have our cake -- and eat it too."

Or viewers may encounter "Adam," who says: "I'm pretty stoked about the future of energy in this country. One reason for that is that I've taken the time to learn more about American coal." The site includes four "commercials" of kids marketing coal. ABEC's scripts for the children ensure that Daniella and Adam's "friends" who pepper the site are just as enthusiastic about coal as they are:"

luckily we can have our coal, and eat it too...

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

please do, mike. it would be great to add more material to my file. it's so fat already, what with all the communist party meetings, witch covens, and PETA events I go to.

JD, I do not worry about losing my 'precious' right. Which, by the way, I don't consider a right [because I am not part of an organized militia, like the national guard] but rather a privilege, which should be granted only to those who undergo stringent background checks. But there are enough rabid gun nuts out there that I will never have to worry about guarding that privilige myself.

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"We are the hope of the future," sayeth Obama. We can "remake this world as it should be." Believe in me and I shall redeem not just you but your country - nay, we can become "a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, and make this time different than all the rest."

LOL...Krauthammer is really shameless in his envy is he not??

Do you see how he slides in that "Believe in me and I shall redeem not just you but your country" as if Barack said it himself?? Charles may not have a silver-tongue, but he does have a forked one, putting words into Barack's mouth that were never there.

Barack doesn't claim anything for himself. He never asks the voters to believe in him...only in themselves.

The thing I admire most about Barack is that he doesn't make this about himself...he always makes it about us, the voters. He is quite clear that we will have to work for our future.

Talk to those who work for his campaign...couldn't have a better or more humane boss. Now, talk to those who work and have worked for Clintons. Yikes! Even one of McCain's top strategic guys will quit rather than go on the attack against Barack. Because he is decent, good, gifted.

The Republicans are terrified of Barack, not because he presents himself as some ersatz messiah, but because he is all too human and damned good at what he does: lead...both by example and word. That's why people respond to him...that and the last 8 years of darkness.

Redemption indeed.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

"I am an American first, a journalist second. END OF STORY."

And a taxpayer in between. How can journalists pass on the one civic duty they usually espouse to readers as necessary to keep the republic going? And why pass on what is usually a profound financial decision which will affect your pocketbook well beyond the eight years an officeholder may serve? Non-voting does not add up as an ethical strength. It is a remarkably disingenuous move to hide possible biases, as said above by someone more eloquent than me.

Posted by: Victoresmine | February 15, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

rpy: Chuck Norris isn't running.

But Obama is.

Vote for hope.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

halspencer, you are completely wrong. I have been an unbiased reporter for 30 years and I vote in every election. I am free to be a citizen first and keep my personal opinions out of print.

Posted by: yhammett | February 15, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"it happens, I love to shoot. Luckily you will never meet me."




Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

claudia, I also wanted to second the comment you sent out about the silly sort of comments that people are posting about Clinton and Obama these days. There are reasonable arguments to be had, but on the whole I'd agree that a lot of supporters on these boards are not helping the discussion.

Of course, I also think that's part of the nature of internet discussions. It's the price of not filtering the discussion...

Posted by: rpy1 | February 15, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

And now, in the most amazing trick of all, a silver-tongued freshman senator has found a way to sell hope. To get it, you need only give him your vote. Barack Obama is getting millions.

This kind of sale is hardly new. Organized religion has been offering a similar commodity - salvation - for millennia. Which is why the Obama campaign has the feel of a religious revival.

"We are the hope of the future," sayeth Obama. We can "remake this world as it should be." Believe in me and I shall redeem not just you but your country - nay, we can become "a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, and make this time different than all the rest."


Posted by: PollM | February 15, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if it would be possible for Barack to break off and create a third party if things go awry at the convention?

Could he still get on the ballot?

Or would this be completely impractical (or illegal)?

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

If reporters are US citizens, they should be encouraged to vote in general elections. After all, if they claim to be knowledgable, unbiased professionals, they should be able to demonstrate the equivalent of judicial temperament.

On the other hand, they should never be registered with a party preference, nor vote to select partisan candidates in primary elections, unless said primary is completely "open," meaning ALL voters may vote for their preferences in ALL parties. To my knowledge, no state has a completely open primary of this description, yet taxpayers, even non-partisans in states which prohibit them from voting at all, are still required to fund them. And the Supreme Court recently decided for the umpteenth time that political parties are PRIVATE organizations!!!

Posted by: jobie | February 15, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

What readers and sources should be assured is that my reporting will be fair to all sides (and I go to exhausting lengths, particularly in election stories). What they should not be assured is that I'm going to sacrifice my private vote, particularly in races where it could impact the best interests of my family. My guess is that journalists who sacrifice their vote just haven't had the right motivation yet.

Posted by: hambrickg1 | February 15, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I've always thought the WSJ was dark and depressing.

The fact is we don't know what sort of President Obama will be. But if he is anything like the leader he has been running his campaign, he may exceed all expectations.

Based on the other campaigns, we of course know what sort of leader Hillary would be ...divisive, secretive, Bill-centered, well as McCain...shoot-from-the-hip, spiteful, small-minded, lamely humorous, isolated.

To me, the gamble is well worth it.
You can play it safe with Hilary or McCain and have more of the same gridlock and corporate-owned politics, or take a gamble and perhaps a better future for ourselves and our kids.

In any case, vote!

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Claudia, wonderful to hear that you are such a strident supporter of the Second Amendment. It appears I misjudged you.

Here, let me help you preserve your precious rights

Posted by: JD | February 15, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

claudialong, I have no response to the WSJ comment. I mean, I guess it will be interesting to see both the message about how Obama's hope is just a big joke and a message that he's the depressing one.

It's hard for me to offer more than an eye roll for that sort of statement. If you'd like a real response, I'll do my best, but that's my first reaction.

Posted by: rpy1 | February 15, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

As humans it's hard for us to disassociate ourselves from what is naturally our propensity to be bias in whatever shade it may be. The most destructive happened was the media bias on John Edwards, and you have been part of that machinery. Now, look what we got a selection? Edwards was much better of the two. But yes, do vote.

Posted by: ipball7 | February 15, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I am a libertarian-conservative reporter. One time, a graduate instructor asked me when I returned to my alma mater, "Do they know what you are yet?" No, they didn't, because I keeps it clean. I am not biased, and I realize a campaign is one to two years of grueling sweat -- so be careful when you aim your pencil at a candidate. Make sure the truth is on your side. The best criticism I have heard of the non-voting reporter came from an editor of a 22K-circulation newspaper: How can we urge people to participate in a basic civic function (which upholds this nation) if we do not? I say, Avoid the caucuses and functions, but vote in general elections and, if you want to, statewide primary elections. Beyond that, stay out of politics.

Posted by: Victoresmine | February 15, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

CC, Since you are a Virginian, I urge you to remember that your vote is arguably the most effective tool you have to live by the state motto Sic Semper Tyrannis!

Granted your pen (or computer, as the case may be) is also a mighty tool, but one can argue that your vote has a much greater impact since you strive for neutrality in your professional life.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | February 15, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

By all means, vote.
But don't let your preferences cross over that fine,not so invisible line between a story,and a piece that sometimes can't be differentiated from a paid (free in that case) political advertisement, as so much "news" does today.

Posted by: Ro-micro | February 15, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I understand what you are saying, or more accurately what Makjovsky was saying. There are superficial similarities, but if anything, McCain is Churchill in a minor key.
Regardless of Churchill's school record, his native intelligence far surpasses McCain's and that is crucial, as we have learned with George W., a cheerleader masquerading as a quarterback.

We are not in the need of someone who is very pale resemblance of Churchill in his declining years. We need a full-blooded American original.

We need someone like Obama.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

This WSJ comment is just otherwordly. They claim Obama is dark and depressing. Any comments, supporters?

"Unease about the economy is real, but Sen. Obama is selling more than that. He is selling deep grievance over the structure of American society. That's the same message as John Edwards, or Dennis Kucinich for that matter. Hillary Clinton's mistake may have been to think this is 2008, not 1938, with the solution lying in leveraging votes in a Democratic Congress. Instead of Hillary's wonkish geniuses, Barack is selling the revolution -- change "from the bottom up."

Right after the Wisconsin speech, TV broadcast another -- by victorious John McCain. The contrast with Sen. Obama's is stark. The arc of the McCain speech is upward, positive. Pointedly, he says we are not history's "victims." Barack relentlessly pushes victimology.

For Sen. Obama the military and national security is a world of catastrophe welded to Iraq and filled with maimed soldiers. Mr. McCain locates these same difficult subjects inside the whole of American military achievement. It nets out as a more positive message. Recall that Ronald Reagan's signature optimism, when it first appeared, was laughed at by political pros. Optimism won elections."

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Here's a related question:

Would a journalist who covers issues relating to religion be expected to refrain from all religious practice, even in private?

That would be absurd.

Posted by: cnham | February 15, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I didn't say he wasn't brilliant, just that he wasn't much of a student. I had forgotten that he did well at Sandhurst after failing the entrance exam twice. He had a rather poor record at Harrow. Churchill was rather gleeful in discussing his academic shortcomings in his writings.

Incidentally, I have read a number of his works including his WWII memoirs, History of the English Speaking Peoples, My Early Life, and am currently reading his WWI memoirs.

Of course, Churchill was eloquent and no one has ever accused McCain of eloquence.

Posted by: jimd52 | February 15, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

'The White House has confirmed that President Bush plans to veto legislation prohibiting the CIA from using waterboarding and bringing the agency's interrogation methods in line with the Army Field Manual.

In today's White House press briefing, spokeswoman Dana Perino defended the veto decision by citing the age of CIA interrogators. She said that they are well-trained "professionals" with "an average age of 40." U.S. soldiers, on the other hand, are too immature to be trusted, argued Perino. That's why they need the Army Field Manual:

This is done at the CIA, and it is done by professionals who are given hundreds of hours of training, who are -- I think General Hayden said an average age of 40; who are being asked to do very hard work in order to protect Americans.

The Army Field Manual is a perfectly appropriate document that is important for young GIs, some so young that they're not even able to legally get a drink in the states where they're from.'

'They're too young to be trusted' yet you give them an attack weapon and drop them into a foreign country?

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Chris, I really respect you, but I am very disappointed. This is insanity! Why wouldn't you take advantage of the gift of liberty and exercise your civic duty to vote? Too many people suffered much in this country, and many continue to suffer all around the world, for the right to elect their representatives. Please think of the countless individuals who have been beaten, harassed, and murdered fighting to make sure all Americans can vote the next time you skip an election so that you can be purely objective. You don't have to tell your readers who you vote for, but please vote!

Posted by: CleverGirl_DC | February 15, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

'Think of crazy Claudia; she has the right to own guns (assuming she hasn't been judged mentally deficient, a felon, etc). My guess is she chooses not to exercise that right, based on her politics.'

Wrong, and a big Good Morning FU to you, JD. As it happens, I love to shoot. Luckily you will never meet me.

A comment I found on a board today that I thought worth passing along:

"Feh. I'm really tired of all this mean-spirited intra-party jousting in the comments and reader blogs. It's totally senseless and unfounded, on both sides. And it's not reflective of how the party feels - exit polls have consistently shown that most Dems would be happy with either Obama or Clinton. Yet somehow the anti-candidate flaming has become the predominant form of communication on virtually all Dem blogsites, and it makes me wince.

If I had a dime for every comment I've seen from Hillary supporters about how Obama voters are "drinking the Kool-Aid" or from Obama supporters about how Hillary voters are "just old and dumb" I'd be starting the Harrison and Melinda Gates Foundation. Could you please all dial it back a notch?"

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Churchill graduated 8th in his class of 150 from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

He wrote extensively, including the Nobel prize winning six-volume history on The Second World War.

McCain doesn't even compare. At all.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Blarg, think of it this way.

Once Chris (or anyone) has made the decision to vote, he/she has now taken a significant step that can only be interpreted to mean that he/she wants that person to win. Psychologically, people want to be on the winning team, and they want to have others validate their choices (this is sometimes called 'recruitment').

I think Chris does a bangup job reporting here, and IMHO, he comes across as even handed and doesn't play favorites. However, it's hardly a stretch to think that, once someone publicly (if secretly) has taken steps to help ensure victory for someone, that they then might (subconsciously) alter their behaviors in order for their decision to be validated.

Posted by: JD | February 15, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Latest poll (taken Feb 14, Rasmussen)
Clinton: 54
Obama: 38

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Totally overdrawn. Churchill was brilliant. McCain was third to the last in his graduating class. We've had enough of those who operate "from the gut."

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 11:23 AM

Churchill was a terrible student, he didn't do well enough in public school to go to Oxford or Cambridge so he was sent to Sandhurst the British West Pont. He didn't do very well there either.

Posted by: jimd52 | February 15, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

You should vote. Objectivity is a guise. I think its an interesting argument, but there is no way to "report" an event without, in some form or fashion, making subjective choices.

Posted by: jnoel002 | February 15, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I think your are correct on the right vs duty line of thinking. I used the phrase "civic duty" in my response and while that is how i actually think of it, i think that it is probably a "right", technically speaking. I don't, however, see how the act of voting would introduce any more bias than the person already had. Blarg is right - preferences exists separately from the act of voting. So while CC (as well as everybody) can exercise their right to vote or not, I find his reasoning (and most reasons) for not doing so lacking. I think that deep down, everyone has a preference or preferences. They just may not want to admit to it and voting would confirm that they do. Recognition of this by the reporter might actually produce less biased reporting.

Posted by: dave | February 15, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Totally overdrawn. Churchill was brilliant. McCain was third to the last in his graduating class. We've had enough of those who operate "from the gut."

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Here is an interesting article comparing McCain to the 20th century statesman I admire the most. The parallels are interesting, if a bit overdrawn.

Posted by: jimd52 | February 15, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse


Of course, Chuck Norris is a policy heavyweight.


Posted by: rpy1 | February 15, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Voting is not only a right, it IS a moral duty.

Sovereign power used to reside in kings or Czars or whatever totalitarian label you like.

In a democratic republic, sovereign power resides in the citizenry and that power is expressed through one's vote.

To not vote is to abdicate that sovereign renounce one's responsibility towards protecting a government of, by and for the people.

So, while it is not a legal duty, it tremains a moral duty, and a moral duty of the highest order. And for a political reporter to shirk that duty would, it seems to me, make him or her a traitor to the more perfect union we strive to achieve and maintain.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

If you *believe* that Obama *believes* what you *believe*...

Vote Obama.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Reporters are very well-informed citizens. As such they have a civic duty to vote. Stick to the high road, please.

Posted by: sickofspam | February 15, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Again, I don't want to hear, "what if everyone had that attitude". Everyone doesn't, and I'm not trying to give them that. I'm merely trying to devolve the emotions down to an economic equation: does the benefit justify the cost?

JD - You often remind me of Oscar Wilde's bon mot - "a cynic knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing."

Posted by: jimd52 | February 15, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Simply have to laugh at the notion of "electoral purity" being seen as a virtue in anyone's eyes. Like sexual chastity or any of the other fetishisms of self-denial, it seems to want to suggest that control of an act equals the non-existence of the impulse to that act. Does the fact of remaining physically chaste implies freedom from "lewd" thought or corporal desire? Obviously not. Nor does a politically-aware person's refusdal to vote imply utter neutrality among the candidates on the ballot. And who on earth would expect it to? It seems to be you are denying yourself your right to vote to no end whatsoever. It is not neutrality but simple fairness that the public needs or even wants from the press.

Try it, Chris, vote! You'll like it!

Posted by: macdipietro | February 15, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

No one should have to surrender their most basic right to participate in their democracy -- no more based on occupation than gender, age, race or any other set of demographics. As a past journalist, I have found that people accuse you of being partisan regardless of voting or making known your personal views. Objectivity is in the eye of the beholder, and few vigorous supporters of any candidate believe anyone in the media is truly "objective" when it comes to their candidate. That holds true regardless of whether a journalist actually votes. Why give up your right to vote merely to satisfy a small number of people who won't be satisfied regardless?

Posted by: kevk91 | February 15, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

If you *believe* the *future* is not now,

and not in the past,

vote Obama.

Vote for *hope*, vote for *change*, vote for the *future*.

Vote Obama.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I think wrestling with the issue is probably the most important thing. Being aware of your biases whether or not you vote is the key.

If you're a public figure and folks who recognize you see you advocating publicly for a particular candidate, I think that hurts you a bit as a reporter, if you want to maintain an air of neutrality. If you're a FOXNEWS reporter then it doesn't matter.

Whether or not to vote to some extent is a legalism. You can avoid voting and still be biased in your reporting.

Continuing to ask the question though helps keep your biases (which you have, just like the rest of us) on the table to yourself so you can keep them in check.

Don't think that because you don't vote, you're somehow not biased.

Posted by: MNobserver | February 15, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Hi -

I do not want to beat this to death, but it is clearly your right to vote. While voting is a civic obligation, it is also a matter of conscience. You know that it is a civic obligation, but if your conscience tells you, for a reason related to your profession, that you must withhold your vote, then you must.

File this post under "Acute Insight Into The Obvious", Chris.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 15, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Reporters should vote.

Reporters are human beings, and shouldn't pretend to be mindless. As you note, people will think you're a hack for one candidate or another regardless. Just accept that, and fulfill your duty as a citizen -- a very informed citizen.

Harris is right, but let me couch his argument differently: you are conflating impartiality with objectivity. The two are different. Impartiality means you don't take a side; objectivity means you speak fairly and without bias. The question is whether you can be objective for your readers while privately being partial to a candidate. Not only to I think you CAN accomplish this, but I think the vast majority of reporters already DO accomplish this. Because Allen's tenet that you should be " private" is utterly unrealistic.

Posted by: roxythedog | February 15, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

you know who else doesn't vote? the French

yeah take that Cilizza

Posted by: candylane | February 15, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

JD, your reason not to vote was: "to keep any subconscious bias from creeping into his reportage; after all, there's a strong psychological urge to be on the winning team, and conceivably, one's reporting might be ever-so-subtly slanted towards one's vote."

Replace that last word with "preference", and I think you've got a point. When a reporter has a bias, that bias is likely to make it into his reporting in some subtle way. But the existence of a preference is not the same as voting. It's possible to have a preference and not vote. If a reporter does have a preference (as many do; they're only human), is there any reason why they shouldn't vote?

Posted by: Blarg | February 15, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Hi, Chris Greetings from one of your favorite cities: Cincinnati.

Vote. It's secret and it's your right as a citizen. I used to cover politics as a reporter in Indiana and Missouri--got to know people like John Danforth, Kit Bond, and John Ashcroft. I voted. If you are a good reporter, you are able to argue both sides of an issue. For instance, I am ardently pro-life, but I can argue the "pro-choice" side. As an objective reporter, you pass along the argument, the facts, and leave it to the reader or listener to decide.

I often ate the food provided by the poltical parties at picnics. If a free hot dog and soft drink is going to affect my coverage, then I am cheaply bought.

Don't give up your right to vote--especially in school elections, which can be awfully close. Here in Ohio, decisions to raise property taxes to support schools are made by razor-thin margins--that will affect your wallet.

You should have a say on that and other issues because it affects your life and your family's life.

Come by for some Skyline Chili next time you're in town. Senator Clinton is having some now as I write this.


Posted by: howard10859 | February 15, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Let me explain further: it comes down to this. Do yo feel voting is a right, or a duty?

If it's a right, then it's something you can choose not exercise. Think of crazy Claudia; she has the right to own guns (assuming she hasn't been judged mentally deficient, a felon, etc). My guess is she chooses not to exercise that right, based on her politics. Similarly, you have countless rights that you choose not to exercise, because it doesn't make sense for you given your circumstances.

If it's a duty, say like serving in the military during a time of conscription, well, then you need to pay the price and fulfill your duty.

I guess I feel it's a right, not necessarily a duty. I would also note that most posters used the word 'right' in this context, in this blog entry.

Posted by: JD | February 15, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

AndyR, I think it's great that you feel it's worth it. Again, I have nothing against those who want to show their patriotism, or feel it's their duty, etc. All things being equal, sure, why not vote.

But all things aren't equal. #1, there's a possible reason why CC shouldn't vote, as I mentioned in my last post. #2, if we're only talking about *one vote*... what is the difference?

Again, I don't want to hear, "what if everyone had that attitude". Everyone doesn't, and I'm not trying to give them that. I'm merely trying to devolve the emotions down to an economic equation: does the benefit justify the cost?

If you have any sense of logic or objectivity about the discussion, the answer, of course is, 'probably not'.

This of course ignores 'soft benefits', like the good feelings you get from participating in the process, etc.

Posted by: JD | February 15, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Harris: Not voting cannot keep reporters from having opinions, and voting does not make for biased journalism. A good journalist reports fairly, regardless of political views. Furthermore, journalists are in a position of informed access -- as part of their profession. While I have always appreciated the symbolic gesture of not voting, I think the journalist has a civic duty to vote.

Posted by: cem34 | February 15, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

While there is a serious risk that reporters who vote may show their bias in their work, I think there is a greater risk that those who don't vote delude themselves into believing they are nuetral.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 15, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

With all due respect, get over yourself. This isn't an issue that the general public gives a hoot about. Why would anyone care if you vote or not?

Posted by: itchbunk | February 15, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

JD, I found thost on a site that list elections determined by one vote. They had another that said Woodrow Wilson was elected by less then one vote per preceint in California. They have a whole list, just google one vote elections.

But the idea that ONE vote, as part of the whole, is very important still holds. Strictly speaking from a mathamatical veiwpoint if you take .000000001 (your influnce in a national election) and divide 0 by that number you get infinity, which is how much more influence I have over the presidential election then someone who doesn't vote.

Also Politicians pay attention to voting numbers. If for example a Governor is voted in by a 20% majority then he/she will have a huge political mandate to move his/her policies forward. In that sense your vote helps to strengthen (or weaken) the relative strength of a politician.

For example, JD you live in VA where Mark Warner is going to win the senate election. But if you don't think he will be a good senator then you should vote for Gilmore and maybe that one vote will show Warner that he needs to remember that there are conservatives in the Commonwealth who given a better candidate could beat him. Then he may legislate from a more centrist position to avoid opening the door for a strong republican challenge. Now this influence will be very very small but IMO it is worth the gas/time/energy etc. And this is even more true in local elections.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 15, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Much more useful would be (1) comprehensive "exit-poll" type disclosure of reporter's background and policy and political preferences and (2) subsequent analysis by "objective" third parties as to whether it appears that they let, or don't let, their background and preferences interfere with good reporting. That would give us something real to work with. E.g., if Reporter X (or most of the Reporters at Paper Y) is almost always "fair and balanced" we will begin to trust his/their reports more. And vice versa.

Posted by: donaldsusswein | February 15, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

forgive my prounouns, for they disagree.

i have to mention this --this is where all the second admendment posturing has gotten us -- we have now officially become the Land of Gunnuttia.

'It was the fifth school shooting in a week in the U.S.'

what a waste. what a pathetic statement about our country. this doesn't happen anyplace else in the world--except maybe Iraq.

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I think it is okay for reporters to vote, if they feel they can keep a separation between their neutral observer role and their personal political judgments. I tend to think that reporters are in a position to be excellent judges and necessarily open-minded about candidates from all corners, meaning that they are among the most well-informed and objective members of the electorate. In other words, I wish that more reporters would vote, as their choices may be as well-informed and non-politically-motivated as any other constituency.

Posted by: swordwright | February 15, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Why are there no Texas polls?

Why is no one noticing the similarity between Bush's management of the Iraq "war" and Hillary's management of her campaign?

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

This is going to be harsh, but you asked the question so I'm going to answer it honestly.

For you not to vote is, in my opinion, cowardice.

I'm thinking back on the things I've seen this government do over the last 7 years. Arresting people for protesting. Kidnapping civilians and sending them overseas to be tortured. Abu Ghraib. Deliberately targeting buildings full of reporters during the invasion of Iraq. Committing fraud against the American people in order to invade a foreign country. Open talk of rounding up Muslims and putting them in concentration camps.

This has been a pretty damned dark and ugly decade thus far in American government. And the most dispiriting part of it in the darkest of those times was the fact that people like you in the media went with the flow. You were almost to a man a lot of cowards who never had the spine to stand up and say "I know the truth, I know what you're doing, I know you're lying and this is wrong!"

How far could it have gone? How close could America have gotten to a fascist state? How many people had to be rounded up in the middle of the night without warrants or due process and beaten in dark rooms before you would have had the moral backbone to stand up and say 'STOP'? 10,000? 100,000? 10,000,000? Where were you guys going to draw a line?

I think that most reporters would have maintained your cool acceptance of what was going on right up until they came for you.

And you don't even vote. Despicable. Reporters should be the most educated voters in America. You should be in the best position to make judgments about what is happening. But most of your colleagues laid down and did nothing when this country needed you the most.

Your failure to vote and your failure to form judgments about what happens in politics and in government is a moral failure.

Posted by: JacksonLanders | February 15, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Michael Gerson writes in the WPost:

"Those clanking, sputtering and grinding sounds you hear are coming from the Clinton political machine.

Our fundraising, it argues, has never been stronger -- though it is about half of Barack Obama's. Our strategy has assumed these minor setbacks all along -- though senior campaign leadership must be shown the door. Our successes will come in "Ohio and Texas because we know that those are states where they represent the broad electorate in this country" (Hillary Clinton's words) -- which is hardly a valentine to Missouri, Virginia, Minnesota, Colorado and other parts of the nation Clinton must view as flyover territory."

The little people are not amused.

Posted by: rfpiktor | February 15, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Interesting bit of navel-gazing, CC. Just joking. But you guys - especially DC reporters- do get so caught up in their own importance. And they get so caught up in a herd mentality, as someone has mentioned. I think the internet has made this worse. Every morning a narrative, which becomes CW, is established, and that becomes the reality whether it's true or not. Get out of DC and talk to non-reporter people more.

I also have to agree with one of above poster that sloppiness is too common [unattributed quotes--especially 'a senior administration official said'!!! these people have names--don't let them get away with this] and don't take stenography from the WH. And this...

" But of course, we can't expect reporters to ask real questions, because that would bring accusations that they are LIBERALS (spoken in the snarling tone otherwise reserved for references to child molesters)--and that would completely trash their image as paragons of objectivity and impartiality."

Reporters have also got to stop being bullied by rightwingers and terrified of being called liberals.

"(and honestly, what difference does one vote make...)."

shame on you, JD. all the difference in the world. you should vote, CC. Realize that you are biased, everyone is, and you will be more objective by understanding it.

Posted by: drindl | February 15, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"Three of the top four presidential candidates will campaign across Wisconsin today, all hitting Milwaukee at some point, ahead of the state's Tuesday primary.

Who's missing? That'd be Hillary Rodham Clinton, who's meeting voters in Ohio, which holds its primary March 4. Mrs. Clinton, speaking at Ohio State University in Columbus on Thursday, said "the people of Ohio get me and get what I'm about," reports the Columbus Dispatch."

I read this in "The Caucus" blog at NYTimes. My guess is that a lot more people are reading it and thinking deep thoughts.

This, my friends, is the beginning of the end. You cannot write off voters and expect to get away with it. She is toast.

Posted by: rfpiktor | February 15, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Hi AndyR. I kind of figured that bomb I dropped would inspire some replies.

I appreciate that blocks of votes do in fact move elections. However, the issue at hand is not a block of votes; it's one reporter's vote. From a purely economic return perspective, you could hardly say that the benefit of one vote is worth the cost in time, gas, etc.

Now, before you human torches decide to flame on, realize that most people think of voting as a duty, not a right, and that's great. More power to them. And please don't say, "what if everyone said that". We're not talking about everyone, we're talking about one person who has what might be a very good reason *not* to vote (to keep any subconscious bias from creeping into his reportage; after all, there's a strong psychological urge to be on the winning team, and conceivably, one's reporting might be ever-so-subtly slanted towards one's vote.)

AndyR, I'm afraid I cannot address your examples you gave, as I'm complete ignorant on those instances. Were those votes in the sense we're discussing here? Ie, there was a vote of all landed rich white dudes in 1776, they tallied the whole thing up and came up with the verdict 'English wins!'? Or were those votes in a legislature of some sort, which is obviously not what we're talking about here.

Posted by: JD | February 15, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I find this question truly bizarre. As people so embroiled in the political process, how can reporters possibly not vote? I would think of all people, political reporters would be the most likely to vote. It is your right as a citizen. No one should ever dismiss someone's critical analysis for such a reason. I would never want to deprive someone of their right to vote. I assume that reporters have their own thoughts and feelings on all the subjects they cover, whether it's home furnishings or presidential politics. Covering it fairly in as unbiased a way as possible is what is required of reporters, not the absence of those thoughts, feelings and opinions.

Posted by: hdanskin | February 15, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

"and honestly, what difference does one vote make...)"

I just had a discussion with a friend of mine on this exact topic. It isn't that your one vote neccesarily decides the election (even local ones) voting is a team sport. About 110,000,000 votes were cast in the last election. Meaning your influence in the system is 1 in 110,000,000. Not very significant but it is INFINTLY more then someone who doesn't vote at all (literally).

Also there are many cases where elections are decided by one vote.
Sometimes this works really well
In 1776 ONE VOTE gave America the English language instead of German.

Sometimes it doesn't.
In 1923 ONE VOTE gave Adolph Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party.

So next time you think your vote doesn't matter just think of that.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 15, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

You, Allen and VendeHei should be ashamed of yourselves as American citizens. How many men and women have given their lives to secure your right to vote and your freedom as an American citizen? To consciously decide to not vote in political protest is one thing, to throw it away based on some nonsensical notion of your objective status is another. Who are you to take yourself above the fray? Why not choose to live where reporters never vote because they cannot?

I hope you publish your response. Or are you above that as well?

Written with deep affection but equally deep disappointment.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 15, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

pg1923, what poll are you citing?

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 15, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

It's over. Obama seven points up in Texas. Almost even in Latino vote in South Texas. That's all folks.

Posted by: pg1923 | February 15, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

You should of course vote.

You should also work diligently to protect your professional integrity by being fair, unbiased and accurate in your reporting. If you want to express your own personal opinion, make sure this opinion is identified as such.

Posted by: LisaSteiner | February 15, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Would you trust a chef who doesn't eat?

Well, I wouldn't trust a political reporter who claims to have no political opinions. You have to do your best not to let your personal beliefs affect your work. But even so, you must have opinions about politics. And you should vote to express those opinions, just like all good citizens should.

Posted by: Blarg | February 15, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

If you don't vote don't complain. Have you ever gotten irked because of a pothole? Stop you didn't vote you can't complain. Didn't like the extra nickle library fine. Stop you didn't vote you can't complain. You don't like your children's teacher. Stop you didn't vote you can't complain. You should vote because it is the right thing to do. If you have children how can they be taught the importance of voting if you don't. I remember going to vote with my parents. And I am now passing it on to my child. You have a preference like everyone. I am sure in your bed at night you and the person you are closest with talk. You have a bias you just don't need to let the world know.

Posted by: dganderson13 | February 15, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I think you should definitly vote. You are one of the most informed voters out there and as a citizen of this nation it is your RIGHT to vote no matter what you do for a living. One of the most respected father's of our nation was a journalist, and I would be willing to bet that Benjamin Franklin Voted every chance he got.

BTW, I think you do an excellent job of appearing neutral and presenting leveled non-partisan discussion points.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 15, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Be prepared to witness the Clintons descend to the darkest depths of gutter politics, a place they both call home. Their disingenuous attempt to seat the bogus delegates from FL & MI is utterly nauseating. Cheating, lying, distorting, triangulating are all second nature to the Clintons. Their arrogant sense of entitlement and ruthless determination to extend the Bush/Clinton dynasty at any cost should make all Americans turn their collective backs in disgust.

The Clintons epitomize the broken, dysfunctional status quo. For sixteen, long years they have fueled the rabid, polarizing partisan division that has crippled Washington. Barack Obama represents the opportunity to reject the failed politics of the past and unite Americans around an uplifting, inspirational vision for the future. Those, whom have never felt a reason to participate in the political process, are supporting Barack in record, unprecedented numbers. They have found in Barack Obama a candidate worthy of believing in. He is a man of integrity, wisdom, and compassion with the strength to take on the political machines that are determined to destroy his message of hope and unity.

Our nation is at a historic crossroad, facing enormous challenges both at home and across the world. It is time to seize this moment in history, look to the future with an optimistic, unyielding resolve and make Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

Robert Luciano- Atlanta, GA

Posted by: ccoblas | February 15, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse


in my opinion, you've done a fine job of presenting your pieces as a completely neutral third party. Probably best not to vote, as you say (and honestly, what difference does one vote make...).

Posted by: JD | February 15, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

My opinion is, vote.

Now, here's my reasoning.

This isn't meant as a put-down of The Fix at all, but part of what's floating in my mind as I type this is whether or not political horse race coverage (and meta-coverage) is really "reporting". "Just the facts" coverage (aka, "reporting") died with the advent of the 24 hour news cycle, the advent of TASS-- er, I mean FOX news, and the advent of it's mirror image at MSNBC and John Stewart's daily show.

So much of what happens in a political blog is, by it's very nature, speculation. So the worse a bias on "The Fix" could do would be to skew the direction of the speculation.

And a blog, by it's very nature, has an interactive component where people can automatically call you on any perceived bias.

What I am personally more irritated by is how there's this herd mentality where the media get caught up in a "narrative". This is what I think is actually the most destructive force in election news coverage.

I wish someone would compile a list of all the times members of the media made statements along the lines of "CANDIDATE X must DO Y in order to survive at this stage".

Sez who? How do they know? How many times has this been wrong? What right does anyone in the news have to set that sort of contingency?

Posted by: nicoleparish | February 15, 2008 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Hum, a well informed person has justified a reason not to vote, while millions of dollars is spent on advertising to sway uninformed citizens how to vote. This may explain the outcome of many elections.

Posted by: layneowens | February 15, 2008 7:25 AM | Report abuse

As a political reporter, it has merit to publicly call yourself a non-voter. It however should be no problem to also vote. The only trick is, to keep an open mind and give fair coverage of _all_ candidates (e.g., Ron Paul as well.) when writing about the election and candidates.

Actually, as I write this, the more I could imagine a political reporter or journalist swaying towards the "non-voting" status!

Posted by: davidmwe | February 15, 2008 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Chris Cillizza,

Follow your conscience, always.

Posted by: rfpiktor | February 15, 2008 6:01 AM | Report abuse

I worked at a paper once where the political reporter held to the view that she should not vote to avoid any appearance of bias, so I do understand that reasoning.

However, it is disingenuous to argue that not voting equals neutrality. The reason some people are suspicious of journalists' motives (and let me say that I do not share these suspicions) has little to do with their voting record and much to do with perceived bias in what they write. A persuasive opinion expressed in an op-ed piece, e.g., is likely to have much greater impact on political results than the same writer's single vote.

It''s a question of which is better, voice or vote? If the number of available votes is small, and the impact of voice is muted, obviously it's better to have one of the votes - which is why the District should have vote as well as voice in Congress. But in a popular election, where the number of votes is large and the platform for speaking reaches many more people, voice becomes he more powerful of the two.

Posted by: wallerhastings | February 15, 2008 5:48 AM | Report abuse

Chris ~~ Let me add my vigorous voice to those who have suggested you have an obligation to vote. I expect your reporting to be transparent, thorough and unbiased but that doesn't mean you can't draw a conclusion from your own work. You must hold an opinion; exercising that opinion, voting in private, is not the same as a careful analysis of the events you cover. I would however draw the line at caucusing because of the public nature of the event. But for heavens sake, vote! As far as epistemological issues and running head-on into the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal as it relates to reporter objectivity I'll leave the tricky handling of that to your good judgment. (J/K. Well said Peter.)

Posted by: jlmoriarty | February 15, 2008 3:31 AM | Report abuse

Having been a journalist most of my adult life (no more), I reject the theory of agnostic reporting. A journalist's obligation is to report with a critical awareness of his or her own bias and to deliver Woodward's now-famous "best obtainable version of the truth" to the public. Journalists must surrender their public sympathies but retain their rights as citizens.

The point is not who I vote for at the polling booth, it's whether I refrain from being a cheerleader in the course of delivering the news. The role of a citizen and the role of a journalist never have been mutually exclusive roles. One can do both with a clear conscience.

There may be those who want to "sniff out" a reporter's party affiliation or political leanings, but so what? If a story smells of bias, the public has every right to complain. And if it doesn't, nothing will satisfy the cranks anyway. So vote, but check your bias at the keyboard.

As Ben Parker said, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Posted by: rippermccord | February 15, 2008 3:18 AM | Report abuse

Each reporter is a private individual who works as a public person reporting what his/her publication defines as news. Newspapers have a quasi-constitutional role as the fourth estate to monitor and criticize (when warranted) government.
Logically, no one can be absolutely objective. Even science admits that an observer changes the present reality just by being present.
Therefore, it is unreasonable that a reporter refrain from her/his civic responsibility of voting because of a fear of being biased or seen by others as biased.
And, I think you will have to admit privately that your writing cannot be 100 percent clean of your own viewpoint because each reporter interprets reality as a human being. History is judged by historians from their own present day decisions of what is important - NOT from judgments of importance made during the time period being studied and "reported" as history.
Each publication makes decisions over time about what will be included in a day's news and what is excluded. That cannot be made on the basis of purely objective reasoning, now can it?
Newspapers have become big business (less and less are family owned or operate out of a town or city without a corporate headquaters elsewhere), the interests of the newspaper itself must influence policy decisions by editorial boards.
So much of what we read from national news sources is written now from the reporter's own point-of-view voice that I cannot believe the reporting is neutral.

Posted by: LiveFree | February 15, 2008 3:14 AM | Report abuse

You should vote.

Posted by: jhansen2 | February 15, 2008 2:39 AM | Report abuse

1-How can you encourage others to vote if you don't.
2-Your voting has nothing to do with objectivity or subjectivity. Voting is personal and,I hope still, in secret.
3-Your opinion at the ballot box should be determined by your American privilege TO vote.
4-Unless you are too indecisive, uncertain, or blase and insecure to vote?
Don't be craven or cowardly! Go on! Vote! I dee-double dare you to!

(smile) Bill Browne

Posted by: catskill1 | February 15, 2008 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely vote.

Posted by: staff | February 15, 2008 12:31 AM | Report abuse

I am also a professional journalist and you bet your bottom dollar that I'm at the polls every time. I wish I could participate in the caucuses (in Wyoming) too, but our editor poo-pooed that idea, which really torqued me.

That said, she made us all go to the primaries, which was great of her to do.

In any case, I think every citizen should vote, but especially journalists who are probably -- hopefully -- among the best informed citizens in their respective community. Chris... Please, please, please, Democrat or Republican, Libertarian, Green Party, Socialist or Constitution Party, please, please, please vote!

Posted by: pgartrell | February 15, 2008 12:30 AM | Report abuse

I am also a professional journalists and you bet your bottom dollar that I'm at the polls every time. I wish I could go (or have gone) to the caucuses (in Wyoming) too but our editor poo-pooed that idea, which really torqued me. I think every citizen should vote, but especially journalists who are probably -- hopefully -- among the best informed citizens in one's community. Chris... Please, please, please, Democrat or Republican, Libertarian, Green Party, Socialist or Constitution Party, please, please, please vote!

Posted by: pgartrell | February 15, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse


Of course, you should vote, absolutely no question about it. I have taught Social Studies for 15 years. My students love talking politics and current events. When they ask my opinion, I offer it. This is because they emulate what they see, in other words, if we want young people to grow up to be interested and informed citizens, we have to model it for them. We can't expect young people to discuss the great issues of our time and become citizen voters if they don't see adults in their lives doing that very thing. My students know that I value their opinions which is why those students who hold very different political beliefs feel safe to share their opinions. When I hear one of my 14 year old 8th graders speaking intelligently, I am always so impressed and tell them so. They love to challenge me, and vice versa, which we all enjoy. I don't take it personally when someone has very different views than I do. Who's to say who is wrong and who is right. It is all about enjoy the debate and the intellectual challenge. I tell you this because while you might want to vote and keep it a secret, there really isn't any reason to. Definitely vote, Chris, you can't be a political columnist/blogger/guru without having your own opinions, which you should always feel free to share.

Posted by: gckarcher | February 15, 2008 12:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm a journalist. To be blunt about it, the not-voting position strikes me as arrogant. It's like we think that what we're doing is so important that we can't do what every other true citizen does, that somehow our job (or how we appear on the job) is more important than carrying out a simple civic duty.

What we do for a living is important, but it's not so important that it trumps the one basic obligation of good citizenship.

Posted by: gerald | February 15, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse


You SHOULD vote; not voting doesn't eliminate any biases you may harbor, and ultimately your obligation as a citizen trumps your journalistic imperatives.

Your country needs your intelligent, insightful,mind casting a ballot. It's private, remember...

Posted by: hphilbrick | February 15, 2008 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Lucky you are not Australian. Voting is compulsory here and has been since 1919. Personally I think it is better for democracy if everyone votes -- even journalists.

Posted by: knottjw | February 14, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Please, please vote. You are a citizen. It is a solemn right, and it's private, so it is nobody's business who you vote for. Certainly, you'd avoid closed party primaries or caucuses. A professional is expected to live a personal life away from the job. Your training should keep you from being tainted by your vote. You are human. You can't possibly live up to complete objectivity in any case. You just do the best you can.

Posted by: optimyst | February 14, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I believe that one does not vote he or she has no right to comment or complain about the results of an election or whether or not an elected official has fulfilled their obligations to their constituency. I believe reporter and journalists and other media folks are NOT different and they should vote.

However, they do have an obligation not to disclose their personal preferences. And, they are mature adults they certain ought to be able to withstand the pressure to disclose their preferences.

Posted by: pbarnett52 | February 14, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I do not mean to imply that you have state your political leanings or who you voted for. In fact, to reduce the all-too-likely possibility that such revelations would make this blog impossible, it would be best for such information to be private -- a word that, unfortunately, too few Americans understand.

Posted by: rlalumiere | February 14, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Peter Howard, I couldn't agree more. You've saved me considerable space now that I don't have to go through all that.

Suffice it to say, we all wear glasses -- lenses through which we view the world. Aside from politics, these lenses incorporate all our biases and perspectives that we have built up through experience. You can no sooner drop them than you can simply cast off who you are. THEY ARE WHO YOU ARE. Reporting on politics is just a profession and, as in all professions, your natural biases will affect you. When reporting on politics, there is considerable pressure to be ojective, but as we know, objectivity is a myth. Voting or not voting does not change the myth (how arrogant do you have to be to think that you can change the fundamentals of reality? I mean, wow!)

Therefore, John Harris is correct. Chris, you and the other two are wrong. By the way, since you guys believe so much in objectivity and cold logic, I'm sure you have no choice now but to agree with Peter Howard and me.

Posted by: rlalumiere | February 14, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Chris, you should vote. The logic that reporters shouldn't vote because it negatively impacts their professional conduct is fundamentally flawed. In my profession, I encounter political scientists who claim they shouldn't vote because it would bias their results.

As professor of social science research methods, I can tell you that, ultimately, this position is a myth. This is journalism, not physics, and objectivity in a social undertaking is simply not possible. Epistemologically, the notion of objectivity depends on an observer being able to totally remove himself from the object being studied and give a full account of what occurs. That account should be the same for any observer.

The flaw in this notion for both journalism and political science is that we, the observers, can never truly remove ourselves from the situation. You can't take the press out of the political equation, you're part of the process. Your reporting, even if "objective" impacts the results of the political process. The press, as both actor (breaking certain stories) and a forum (conveying information of what is happening on the campaign trail to the wider country), cannot stand outside politics. You cannot, in any meaningful sense of the word, be objective.

If you were a chemist, then sure, you could be objective, conducting experiments independent of your own observation. But, Chris, you're a reporter (and a noted one at that), and your very appearance at any political event substantively impacts the politics of that event.

So, how does the political scientist respond to this? Take a lesson from Max Weber. Be transparent in your position. Be consistent, thorough, and rigorous in your analysis, applying your lens of investigation to its logical conclusion.

For a reporter such as you: Vote. Be a good reporter. Be clear and transparent in your reporting methodology--what you cover, how you are assigned to cover it, and what standard you use for verifying information. People will evaluate you on how well you offer analysis based on these standards. If someone wants to challenge your conclusions or accuse you of bias, you rest on your rigorous and transparent application of a well accepted and recognized methodology.

But lets all get over the myth of objectivity--in any study of the social world.

AS a postscript, I'd note that even physicists have abandon traditional notions of objectivity. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle holds that the act of observation changes that which one is observing at the sub-atomic level. So, two physicists could look at the same electron and record different observations--not because one is biased, but because classic objectivity--removing the impact of the observer on the observed--is impossible.

Posted by: peterhoward | February 14, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Go vote. I don't care who you vote for as long as your reporting is unbiased.

More, I think the act of voting will help clarify your writing. Without voting you will not come face to face with your own political conscience as forcefully. It's one thing to form an opinion from the sidelines; something very different in the voting booth as you convert that opinion into an irrevocable decision.

Voting is a cleansing experience.

Posted by: egc52556 | February 14, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I think it's idiotic that the citizens who are likely to be the most informed about the issues - reporters - don't vote. Admirable, perhaps, but misguided.

On the other hand, if you said that after seeing the sausage made you couldn't eat any, I'd understand.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

i think len downie brainwashed post staffers against voting.

it's always been bizarre to me.

reporters need to have the ability to have an opinion and passion about any number of issues that affect us all, but still be able to report in a nonbiased way.

that's the job.

i don't want reporters who will themselves into not caring about important issues to the point of thinking that it's noble to not vote. too self-referential, self-important.

Posted by: boyohboy | February 14, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I think that before being a reporter, a person is a citizen. Regardless of any noble ideas one has about being the fourth estate or whatever, people in the media should exercise their civic responsibilities and vote.

The concept of neutrality is mostly a chimera. No intelligent person, reporter or not, can be completely without opinions and biases. We are creatures with individual perspectives on the world. Reporters can work to limit their biases, to be transparent about them, or to be fair in spite of them, but no one who has listened carefully to politicians for months can honestly say that he has no opinions about them.

I would also dispute the idea that voting gives a person any more vested interest in the outcome of an election than reporting on the candidates. How one reports and what one writes speaks much more than the vote itself.

The dilemma that many reporters face going into, say, a stump speech for the purpose of covering it while still being undecided is a challenge, but I think reporters are intelligent, sensible people who can turn off the "do I vote for this person or not" faculty in order to report the news. Not deciding who to vote for until the day before of day of the election is perfectly acceptable, but in most cases I suspect that most reporters will have made up their minds long before this, even if they plan not to vote.

Posted by: blert | February 14, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Vote. I agree with many others. You are among the best-informed among us. What a shame to have that knowledge and not use it to cast your vote.

Also, I think there's a distinction -- albeit perhaps a fine one -- between voting for the best qualified candidate and rooting for that person to win. Yes, you probably hope the candidate for whom you voted will win because you've concluded he/she is the best choice. But that's all right.

Anyway, I see no conflict. Never have. I remember reading that Post editor Len Downie doesn't vote, and thinking it was kind of quirky.

Posted by: jac13 | February 14, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Well, I might take the conceit that reporters have to be unbiased more seriously if reporters hadn't spent the first 6 years of the Bush administration printing White House press releases as "news." But of course, we can't expect reporters to ask real questions, because that would bring accusations that they are LIBERALS (spoken in the snarling tone otherwise reserved for references to child molesters)--and that would completely trash their image as paragons of objectivity and impartiality.

Posted by: tigers1 | February 14, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Chris although I admire your neutrality in your reporting, I wish you would vote because I would feel good that there are at least some citizens who vote based on observation of all events not one reported in mass media.

By not voting one doesn't become more objective or neutral, we all have some bias and there is nothing wrong with having bias as long as your bias does not show up in your reporting, like Paul Krugman, Howard Schwartz, Dana Milbanks, Jeffery Tobin on CNN, etc.

I for one consider you very neutral in your reporting and thats why for past three months I have read almost every single of your articles. I can't say the same about some of your colleagues on Post. I am political science student and I think I have acquired enough sophistication through my studies and knowledge to see through most biases.

In fact I like the idea of reporters declaring their vote public and explaining, thats what we want from public figures or at least I want to see that happen. That would be good for average reader, who might not have tools to see through reporter biases. The idea some readers above point is that readers should be able to see through bias on their own is not genuine to say the least. Average public does not have time to investigate like some of us do through internet and they rely on local and national media to make up their view points, therefore more neutrality provided the better it would be. However as I write this post I can see where some people might not disagree with my thinking and would like to hear your opinion on reporters making their vote public.

So to end this post I agree with most of your readers that you should start voting.

Posted by: dewanitum | February 14, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Chris, your point of view is illogical.

The only reason not to vote is if you have no opinion on who should win. If you do have an opinion, then not voting won't eliminate it. You could plausibly make the opposite argument--you might be more likely to express your opinion through your reporting if you have felt forced to stifle it by not voting.

Vote, then get back to striving for objectivity in your reporting, knowing that you've given your opinion a legitimate form of expression.

Posted by: rdpch | February 14, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Here's another vote STRONGLY in favor of you and other journalists voting.

The whole reason we have a secret ballot is so people are not *publicly* accountable for the choice they make in an election. It is to avoid pressure from employers, neighbors, and so forth.

The same goes for pressure on you from your readers, editors, and blog commenters. You don't tell us how you voted and we can't find out.

And precisely because there is no other way for you to participate in our democracy -- you can't contribute money, have bumper stickers or yard signs, or persuade your neighbors whom to support -- it's all the more important that you do the one thing that is permitted to you.

Posted by: billmcg | February 14, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse


Reporters who pontificate about the value of voting but don't actually do it themselves are hypocrites pure and simple.

Jonathan Berr

Posted by: jdberr | February 14, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Of course, reporters and editors and anchors and producers should vote--that is their private right.
However, in the American media landscape with its emphasis on independence and objectivity (impossible to practice), the problem is that there is a gap between ideals and practice. This is not necessarily true for individual media figures but rather for organizations. I agree with the previous post that the most of the media are tilted heavily in favor of Senator Obama and against Senator Clinton. We all can see that gender bias is more acceptable than racial bias under the current political correctness dogma.
For more, see

Posted by: bn1123 | February 14, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: lylepink | February 14, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm a lot more bothered by the blatant pro-obama anti-clinton bias of the washington post.

It breaks my heart to see the paper that brought down nixon do nothing about bush/cheney and then viciously attack both clintons while genuflecting at the alter of saint obama.

We begged you to focus on the issues.

Instead, you gave us another "cult of personality"

Actions speak louder than words.


But please try to be impartial in your coverage.

You haven't been.

Posted by: svreader | February 14, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Just a quick question off topic --

When would the Fix have time to sleep, let alone vote? By my count, you have posted five entries to the blog today, spanning 12 1/2 hours. I REALLY appreciate your insights and analysis, but everyone needs downtime now and then. Happy Valentine's Day!

Posted by: 44west | February 14, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Voting is a right you as a citizen have and you should use it. Writing an opinion piece is different than writing a news item in my opinion. I think that although I understand your wanting to appear fair, but you are diminishing your citizenship to second classness by not voting. I understand that some will say that a reporter/writer is slanted but this will happen whether one votes or not. I hope if you have children, you at least vote in the general elections to demonstrate to them some good citizenship.

Posted by: bear | February 14, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse


I say you should do as your conscience tells you. If you feel you should not vote becasue you believe you do a better reporting job as a result, then abstain.

Of course, it does make it harder for you later if the candidate(s) you disagree with end up being the elected official(s), as you have not cast a vote either way.

Tough choice. But voting and feeling dirty abut it would be worse than not.

Either way though, just dont vote McCain (only joking).

Posted by: anthonyrimell | February 14, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Every person should vote. Reporters are people too. Therefore...

Seriously though, people die for a right to vote. Reporters going to biased or not biased, voting has no effect.

Furthermore, Chris of all people is probably more suited to vote than most people due to his understanding of the issues and close proximity to all things political.

Posted by: countgeebear | February 14, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse


You'd be more accurate in asking people who they think you'd vote for, that way you could find out if you're actually biased or not. I have no friggin' clue who you'd vote for. And I've read everything you've written for a year.

Posted by: thecrisis | February 14, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

We have a secret ballot in this country. Reporters who cover political news are, necessarily, well informed citizens. The notion that reporters have not formed personal opinions on the issues of the day is ludicrous. I can see an argument for not registering in a particular political party, but the reporter not voting strikes me as ostentatious posturing. But, reporters form opinions based on a considerable familiarity with the issues. They are human, it would be a strange person indeed who could refrain from forming an opinion. Voting or not voting in a secret ballot does not alter the fact that the reporter has personal opinions.

Posted by: jimd52 | February 14, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Whether or not a reporter votes has no bearing on whether he or she chooses to write a biased article.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 14, 2008 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Considering the huge biases and general incompetence shown by almost everyone who calls themselves a reporter, it's beyond ludicrous to even mention this topic: one biased article can add or subtract thousands or hundreds of thousands of votes from others.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | February 14, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

"The elective franchise, if guarded as the ark of our safety, will peaceably dissipate all combinations to subvert a Constitution, dictated by the wisdom, and resting on the will of the people."
-Thomas Jefferson

Votes in Syracuse, NY 2008, Democrat primary:
Obama 6001
Clinton 6001

Choosing not to vote is a personal choice which has nothing to do with any profession, not even membership in the Supreme Court. Moreover, imho, choosing not to vote effectively negates whatever political opinion you may have.

WE are this nation. It is our votes which sustain and determine its direction. To abdicate that responsibility is the height of civil immorality.

A political reporter who does not vote seems a bloodless, passionless observer. Like a musician who only reads notes and never plays. Useless.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 14, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Chris, YES I care if reporters vote. They should vote! Voting is an *obligation* for all citizens of this country, and that includes reporters. Furthermore, we shouldn't even care, nor should you disclose, how you voted. It's a private matter. And, if your preferences happen to creep into your reporting, we are intelligent enough to notice it and point it out.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 14, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry but this is utter guff, Chris.

Whether or not you vote does not mean you are devoid of bias: you have bias whether you realise or admit it, formed by your background, your family, friends, education, experience and work. As someone who covers politics all the time, you cannot but have political opinions; and the moment you do you align yourself with politicians who agree with you; and against those who don't.

I'd be far more comfortable with a reporter who acknowledged (privately or publicly) what their instinctive political bias is, and worked hard to balance it out than someone who believes that they are totally neutral and impartial.

Posted by: adamcgray | February 14, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

In retrospect, there were WAY too many double-negatives in that post for it to be coherent...

Posted by: Boutan | February 14, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I am one of the posters who has strayed into declaring CC "pro-Hillary"... but in hindsight it is actually MY bias that makes me write those things in annoyance when she is doing well (I'm an Obama man).

So, CC... on behalf of feisty posters that take our emotions out on you by declaring you "biased"... sorry dude.

Having said that.... I really think you should vote. You probably spend more time thinking and observing politics than anyone alive. So use what you learn for the greater good.

I really do agree that not-voting doesn't mean your inner feelings or thoughts are biased.

Sometimes those thoughts are ones that NEED promoting.

"Objectivity" does not simply mean sitting on the fence.

Would it have been "objective" reporting for someone not to write against Hitler? No, it would have been remiss and morally-defunct.

Now, we obviously don't have such black and white moral issues... but my point is that I don't like this notion that reporters are "objective" if they don't have an opinion. We KNOW you have an opinion... that is human. It is American. And it can make you a BETTER reporter to realise it within yourself, rather than suppress it.

Keep up the good work Chris.

And go vote. (Even if it isn't for my guy. ;)

Posted by: Boutan | February 14, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I wish The Fix had my junior high school civics teacher. All citizens have a responsibility to vote. Putting that aside, however, I find your arguments in favor of not voting increadibly unpersuasive. You admit that you have opinions in spite of not voting, but I would venture that these opinions go beyond calling balls and strikes as an "umpire" or picking winners and losers. As an intelligent person, you are able to critically evaluate what politicians say and question it based on your own views of American society.

You also worry about the appearance of bias, and enjoy your nonvoting status as a retort to those who would try to label you a suporter of some person or cause. This is silly! Some readers are going to find what you write "biased" whether or not you vote. If you are in fact a good reporter, if you don't put your thumb on the scale, let your writing stand for itself. Let it be a testament to your ability to cover news objectively to the best of your ability, whatever your private thoughts.

Finally, shame on you! I love your writing. I am not sure who you would vote for, but you are a smart thoughtful person. Our country, now more than ever, needs you to participate in democracy.

Posted by: ferris.allen | February 14, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight--not acting on your opinion somehow obliterates that opinion? Nonsense. If you really want to insulate your readers from bias, the only sure-fire solution is to stop writing entirely.

I used to run up against this mindset years ago in my anthro classes. The subconscious biases of our cultural identity frame our perceptions and prevent us from observing anything truly objectively. My response was always the same: fine, give me a friggin' "A", quit your job, shut down the department, and let's go grab some brews since this is apparently all a total waste of time.

Strangely, none of my profs ever followed my suggestion.

Look, you're human. You've got an opinion. You do your best to keep it out of your reporting but it's going to seep in anyway, and that's OK.

Do your duty and vote.

Posted by: ablackstormy | February 14, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

You also worry about the appearance of bias, and enjoy your nonvoting status as a retort to those who would try to label you a suporter of some person or cause. This is silly! Some readers are going to find what you write "biased" whether or not you vote. If you are in fact a good reporter, if you don't put your thumb on the scale, let your writing stand for itself. Let it be a testament to your ability to cover news objectively to the best of your ability, whatever your private thoughts.

Finally, shame on you! I love your writing. I am not sure who you would vote for, but you are a smart thoughtful person. Our country, now more than ever, needs you to participate in democracy.

Posted by: ferris.allen | February 14, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

It's a reporter's personal decision whether or not to vote in a campaign they're covering. What I appreciate as an interested news watcher is for reporters to cover the news impartially as is humanly possible. The last month of coverage of the democratic primaries is so negative towards Sen. Clinton that it is obvious who the media likes, Sen. Obama. This is especially true of the television anchors on MSNBC.

Posted by: jeiken | February 14, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

As a fellow reporter, I find the whole notion of not voting because of one's career ridiculous.

I also feel it is based in egotism- the idea that your notion of what is going on in politics is so important, that you dare not betray any hint of bias- as if the fate of thousands lies in your hand.

I believe this country is better when people who are informed are voting- if your career is based on being informed about politics, than why on earth wouldn't you vote? You tear through your own justification, CC, when you say Harris is right that a) people will believe you have a bias no matter what and b)not voting will never mean you don't know who you would vote for if you were a "civilian."

Incidentally, I also teach a journalism class, and I broached this issue last semester. I argued the line for why reporters should NOT vote, only because everyone seemed baffled why a reporter wouldn't vote. I couldn't convince a single student. They think your arguments are silly.

And so do I. I think the younger breed of journalists will not embrace them, and they will die a long-overdue death.

Posted by: dabendschein | February 14, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse


whether reporters vote or not doesn't change their beliefs and opinions. In fact I would strongly argue that reporters are the most qualified voters in the nation, simply because they track and consume all of the news in their relative fields. I am a political reporter and I am a political junkie. I know nearly everything about every candidate. So I vote. That's a lot more than some other voters can say.

Posted by: thecrisis | February 14, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

The new media wave that is hitting is all about transparency. The old, illusion of objectivity crap is going out the window. All journalists lean one way or another, even if only slightly, and the more transparent they are with their personal thoughts, the better a reporter they are and the more trustworthy they are to their readers.

I tilt liberal and typically vote Democrat. That doesn't mean I don't like and understand Republican arguments or am incapable of covering a Republican event or news piece. People are just people.

Posted by: thecrisis | February 14, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Reporters really shouldn't vote. I mean, if they vote, why not leave the office and give speeches and campaign too? That's all part of the Sacred American Civic Duty, is it not?

It's not a matter of being bad Americans. Or being Americans second. It's a matter of fulfilling their duty to America in a different way.

Posted by: jhz2 | February 14, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I am a professional journalist and this subject frequently comes up.

I am an American first, a journalist second. END OF STORY.

Plus it is naive to think that a person who covers the news day in and day out is not qualified to make a good judgment call and vote for the candidate they prefer. Not voting is merely attempting at an illusion of objectivity - it's impossible to not form opinions on subjects when you cover them every day of your career.


Posted by: thecrisis | February 14, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Amen vote. The idea that anyone can truly be "unbiased" is absurd. It's a figment of reporters' imaginations that developed in the early 20th centuries as journalism like teaching and numerous other fields "professionalized" i.e. came to view themselves as "professionals" with an internal culture and internal "objective" methodologies that served some supposedly objective public good. This became institutionalized in journalism schools which, by the way, are a complete joke - the old journeyman system was much better. The result is that an article on the elections in the washington post, for example, sounds pretty much the same as an article on the elections in the ny times. You quote a pundit, voter, and the candidates, then you cite a poll or two and finally you intersperse it all with a tiny bit of wishy-washy analysis. Personally, I think the country was better off in the 1800s when newspapers didn't pretend to be unbiased and national discourse was more spirited.

Posted by: CH1234 | February 14, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse


It sounds to me like the not voting tact is just a big CYA. Why wouldn't you vote? You have the same feelings and thoughts regardless of whether you cast a vote or not. As you said, you are constantly accused of being biased as it is. Working for the Potomac Pravda (had to laugh at " ideologically neutral publication like Politico, or the Washington Post") means you will be labeled as biased from the get go. That said, would voting change what you wrote? I doubt it. So do your civic duty and vote. You shouldn't tell how you voted and since you are a Virginian, you don't register for a party. Given your field, you would have perhaps one of the most informed votes out there.

Posted by: dave | February 14, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Reporting is a job, like a lot of other jobs, where you have to keep track of details. This requires enthusiasm and interest in those details and an ability to describe them objectively. However, when the voting booth curtain closes and you are alone with your choices and your conscience, I fail to see how the requirements of your job will trump your conscience. Voting is a personal matter. Your job is, at least for me, a lot less personal. I see no trouble in separating reporting from voting and no need to ask reporters not to vote.

Posted by: judgeccrater | February 14, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

what utter nonsense.

The issue is one of professionalism not citizenry. Whether or not one votes, which is the moral duty of every adult in a representative democracy, has no necessary effect on whether one remains objective as a journalist. Non-voters can be as unprofessionally biased as voters. In other words, what determines a journalist's professionalism is his or her sense of journalistic ethics and not his or her personal political preference.

Y'all are taking yourselves way too seriously.

Posted by: wpost4112 | February 14, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I have known some great, objective reporters who didn't vote based on your reasoning, Chris... but I think, in the end, it is an effort to sustain a falsehood. That falsehood is the pretense of complete objectivity/neutrality. In the end, not voting is an effort to keep up appearances -- appearances that are at odds with the realities of human nature. I would respect you and all your peers more (and I already respect you a great deal!) if you were able to be honest about your inherent, human subjectivity.

Posted by: REClayton | February 14, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Reporters should not vote. Good reporters don't give a damn who won or lost. Those are the reporters who really are able to report without fear or favor. When a reporter makes choices and votes, he or she does care who won or lost, and he or she should get into another line of work.

Posted by: halspencer | February 14, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I believe reporters should vote, if they so choose, and not let their job trump their citizenship. The vote is private, so no one can deduce a preference from it. Further, not voting is a choice that expresses something much darker. Not voting says that your vote does not matter, and that any individual vote can be discounted. This is not true, and should not be encouraged, even implicitly. So, Chris, go vote in November.

Posted by: gtroyp | February 14, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

To me, a reporter not only has the right, but the obligation to vote. I agree with proudtobeGOP, we are all citizens of this great country before we are anything else. It is wrong for reporters to assume that they have some sort of moral obligation to the country not to vote.

I also think, from a journalistic perspective, good reporting and writing are the only defense to so-called bias. Not voting does not in anyway excuse bad reporting. Everyone has opinions,it is the duty of the journalist to be aware of a report these opinions.

Posted by: grnbean08 | February 14, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

are you kidding me? go vote. Are you not a citizen? do you not have personal interests that you'd like to see, I don't know, enactment of a federal shield law? seriously dude, the whole notion behind a democracy is that people voice their concerns (read interests relevant to their lives) through their votes. Voluntarily Abstaining disenfranchises the whole system by vesting disproportionate influence in, well, my vote. I don't want the responsibility of representing your interests, I have enough to worry about!

Posted by: lumpydingle | February 14, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Even reporters should vote. I don't agree that by not voting, one is able to be more objective. One's opinion's are going to be there regardless of whether or not they vote. Civic duty is more important than remaining neutral. There will always be some kind of bias in reporting. In my opinion it is the reader's responsibility to sniff that out and judge for themselves.

Posted by: hlp03 | February 14, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

You have a duty as a citizen to be an informed voter, same as everyone else. If you don't want to disclose your choices, fine. If you don't want to declare a party or vote in party primaries, fine. Of course you shouldn't campaign or join supporter groups, but I expect the Washington Post already tells you that.

I think political journalists should encourage poeple to register and to vote. They should remind them of ALL their duties as citizens, for that matter. As they say, democracy is not a spectator sport. I think that would be easier to do if you yourself voted.

Posted by: TomJx | February 14, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I can't even believe I'm reading this. I find the whole notion of calling oneself a "non-voter" as if it's some sort of moral imperative, absolutely revolting and un-American.

CC, I suggest you hew to the mentoring of your colleague John Harris who appears to have his head on straight wrt the difference between expressing opinion fairly and trying to sway opinion as a professional.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | February 14, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Vote. You're a citizen more than you're a reporter.

In addition, the idea of neutrality being the same as non-participation seems off to me. Not participating in an election seems like you're making just as big a choice as picking a specific candidate.

In addition, it would be a shame to lose the group of voters who should, in some ideal sense, be the best informed of all.

Posted by: rpy1 | February 14, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

It is of course better for reporters not to vote, so as to remain as neutral as possible. Still, I suspect that even if you don't, you have preferences for who wins or loses.

During these primaries you must have felt some sort of elation or regret when one of the candidates won or lost. It would be hard not to.

Posted by: storyofthefifthpeach | February 14, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

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