Asking the Wrong Question

This morning, “Fox & Friends” co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade interviewed author Bernard Goldberg, and discussion centered around what the New York Times’ John Tierney called his “unscientific survey” of 153 journalists (one third of whom are Washington, D.C.-based). The hosts fixated on the finding that the Washington-based reporters polled felt Kerry would be a better president than Bush, 12 to 1.

Among Doocy’s measured questions to Goldberg: “Are you shocked [by those results]?” Goldberg was shocked, but only that reporters “continue to tell the truth” when asked this question. “There is more diversity inside the Taliban,” Goldberg declared, “than there is inside the Washington press corps.” Doocy goaded: “Are you saying conspiracy?” Goldberg wasn’t. “No, no. But listen, when you have a 12-1 margin, a kind of group think takes over …” And so it went.

For some reason, the Fox folks didn’t mention the second, arguably more revealing part of Tierney’s “survey,” in which, as Campaign Desk highlighted Monday, “professional bias” was measured, as opposed to personal political bias. Tierney found that 77 of the 153 reporters surveyed would rather cover a Bush White House than a Kerry White House, because, as one reporter said, “you can’t ask for a richer cast of characters to cover” and “Kerry will be a bore after these guys.”

Kerry, for his part, promised yesterday that as president he would hold more press conferences than President Bush — one per month, even.

Given that White House reporters all but uniformly deride such formalized Q&A’s, that sounds sort of like the guy running for high school class president promising more homework if elected.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.