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‘I’m a biased journalist’: Fmr NY Times editor says media ‘shouldn’t have to disguise’ opinions

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A former freelance editor for The New York Times who was fired after she posted a pro-Biden tweet has justified her slanted political viewpoints in a recently published op-ed.

In the column, “I’m a Biased Journalist and I’m Okay With That,” Lauren Wolfe defended her motivation for tweeting “I have chills” when then-President-elect Joe Biden arrived at Joint Base Andrews before heading to Washington, D.C., to be inaugurated.

Wolfe’s op-ed, published Friday in the magazine Washington Monthly, notes that “being fair and having [a] point of view aren’t incompatible,” adding that journalists “shouldn’t have to disguise or suppress their views.”

“Ever since I was fired from The New York Times at the end of January, no matter what I publish or say about journalism online, angry people come out of their hidey-holes to yell at me. They say that I’m biased … that journalists are all crooked, and that I’m a perfect example of why no one can believe anything we in the media say,” Wolfe began in a column originally published to her Substack.

“So, I’d like to talk a little about this idea of bias—and its implied opposite, objectivity—in journalism. They are inextricably linked,” she continued.

She went on to say that in order to be an unbiased journalist, it’s not possible to be “you” since that requires writers and reporters to keep their political biases “hidden.”

But, she claimed, “that doesn’t mean our implicit bias isn’t guiding our choice of sources, or even what stories we decide to cover.”

“I’ve always believed it is better to be open about my views on the issues I cover, which for a long time have been war and international human rights. And yes, I often do write with an agenda—with an eye toward creating change,” Wolfe continued.

“So yes, I am biased, and consciously so when it comes to certain subjects—especially when I’m reporting on criminality. But I don’t see that as a bad thing,” she stated.

Wolfe went on to rip media outlets over their “relentless need to find objective balance” in how they present issues, which she said “has actually led to dangerous imbalance—with outlets too often giving as much space to lies as to facts.”

The journalist used past reporting to make her argument, citing the arrest of gangs of child rapists in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which she exposed.

“I was up front about what I was trying to achieve, and once I felt I’d gone over the invisible line of being in the story, I wrote about that,” she noted.

“My actions as a journalist had effected change, which became part of the story I was telling,” Wolfe wrote. “Continuing to report without mentioning this would have been impossible, and I couldn’t simply stop covering what was happening to these little girls.

“Transparency trumps pretending we’re not humans with opinions and emotions like everyone else,” she said.

Wolfe said that Times editors knew she was politically liberal when they hired her and said that was fine as long as it was not reflected in her writing moving forward.

“I’m not saying there is no implicit bias at the Times or at other newspapers, but most journalists at the top of their field are damn good at keeping it out of their news reporting,” she said.

“Of course, some will always seep in, but that’s not necessarily going to make the coverage misleading or inaccurate. Again, journalists are still humans,” she added.

“Yes, I am biased. But when my work calls for me not to be, I work very hard to create unbiased journalism—that’s what a professional does,” she said.

Jon Dougherty

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