By Alan Lange
This week, Governor Phil Bryant gave his next to last State of the State address. After the address, Mississippi Today let loose a team of five reporters to “fact check” his address.
The publication, funded by Mississippi’s most elite millionaires, billionaires and out of state foundations, is a non-profit so that donors receive a tax deduction for supporting the aims of what purports to provide “Nonpartisan Mississippi News”. Now boasting a staff of 16 plus Rick Cleveland (not listed), they’re probably one of the top two or three most highly funded media organizations in Mississippi.
As for their performance this week, you typically don’t “fact check” someone you don’t already think is a liar. Basically, the need to “fact check” someone is essentially an admission of bias at some level. What you cover and how you cover it is all evidence of bias. I could certainly go point by point in the “fact check” piece to take exception with certain portrayals of facts, but the sneakier bias is what you don’t do. How difficult would it have been to have the comments of Rep. Jay Hughes, who delivered the Democratic response, “fact checked”? No one at MS Today seemed to think about that.
Again, for most who pay attention to media and public policy, the die for that organization was cast the nanosecond that Mississippi Today hired Patsy Brumfield, fresh off a scorched earth stint ostensibly on behalf of the Democratic Party for Initiative 42 (also a multi-million dollar non-profit affair). Her stint at MS Today didn’t last that long, but it did untold damage to the “nonpartisan” brand right out of the gate.
To throw a basketball team’s worth of journalists who had been with the Clarion Ledger, rescued from the Jackson Free Press and other left leaning non-profit foundations while operating under the banner of “unbiased” is the height of hypocrisy. If someone would kindly point me to the conservative thinking writers and staff members on MT’s staff, I’d appreciate it because I can easily point out the ones that are overtly more sympathetic to the other side of the aisle.
In the 14 years of running Y’all Politics and watching and documenting media coverage on a daily basis, here’s what I believe to be true . . . being unbiased and nonpartisan is simply not possible. You can try to be fair and bipartisan but we are just not wired to be completely unbiased and non-partisan as thinking human beings. The problem they appear to be running into is that there’s no one anywhere in the operation that can voice the other side of the argument, which makes even honestly trying to be nonpartisan not possible.
At the end of the day, the old adage is “follow the money”. There are literally millions of dollars in tax deductions that have been doled out to prop up MS Today. There are very few people in this world that give out of pure altruism, and it invites the question, what are they really trying to accomplish? With each passing article, we’re finding out.