Fair and balanced on the campaign trail, 1972…?

A passage straight out of Jay Rosen’s “view from nowhere” thesis, spotted in Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland:

Every Watergate story was balanced by an imprecation against McGovern. The New York Times reported, “MCGOVERN DISCLOSES LARGE NEW LOANS,” about two heirs to the Eli Lilly fortune who channeled $500,000 to McGovern. Far down, after the jump, the story noted that Richard Mellon Scaife, of the Pittsburgh banking family, had given a million dollars’ worth of $3,000 checks to 330 Nixon committees to avoid the gift tax. The Lilly brothers’ contribution was a loan the McGovern campaign paid back through thousands of small donations; Scaife’s was a straight-up payout. But you had to read down to the end of the story whose headline mentioned McGovern to learn that.

For McGovern, the media’s gospel of “balance” was proving deadly. His campaign was overwhelmingly being funded by donors he labeled the “skinny cats.” They attended “people’s fund-raisers” where admission was five bucks. … They responded to direct mail with some thirty thousand envelopes a day. … After a televised speech on Vietnam … the one-day haul was $852,248. Gary Hart himself had to work the mail table to help with the backlog. You wouldn’t know it from reading the headlines in McGovernophoic organs such as the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal: “$2 Million Loaned to McGovern by Unions, Rich Contributors”; “$4.5 Million in Loans; McGovern Forces Ask Wealthy for Financing”; “Secrecy Preferred by Some McGovern Moneymen.”

He wasn’t mugging Avon ladies. Apparently, he was mugging heirs and heiresses instead.”


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