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On Being Fair to Mark Halperin

In a post on President Obama’s budget speech last week, I wrote, “Even Mark Halperin of Time magazine, a fine, fair, but not terribly unsympathetic-to-Obama reporter, agreed that Obama crossed a line in his speech. . . .”

A reader wrote privately to say that I was being unfair to Halperin. My initial reaction was that my reader was mistaken. I was trying to say that Halperin is not reflexively anti-Obama, and that if someone like him had arrived at this judgment (“Obama crossed a line”), well, that was pretty strong evidence Obama had indeed crossed a line.

Upon reflection, though, I think my reader has a point. The sloppy phrasing leaves the mistaken impression that Halperin is typically an apologist for Obama. And there are plenty of such apologists in the media. But Halperin isn’t one of them. (He has, for example, acknowledged the “extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage” that existed among the media in the 2008 campaign.) If more reporters possessed Halperin’s professional standards, journalism would be in a better state. That’s worth saying, I think—and that’s why my clarification is worth making.


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