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You Bet Your Ass I’m Biased

Buzzfeed’s Latest Really Should Go Viral

“We don’t run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health, and we won’t accept Trump ads for the exact same reason.” So said Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti in announcing his company’s decision to dump its ad deal with the Republican National Committee because of Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims, Latinos, women, and the free press.

Even though this is a business and not an editorial decision, the move will undoubtedly raise the issue of bias in journalism and increase the political vitriol aimed at the media.

But here’s the thing; while journalists are expected to be unbiased in the delivery of facts, they should and must be biased against hate and prejudice. Historically, Americans have depended on that bias. Unbiased reporting doesn’t mean checking your frontal lobe at the door.

When I publish the NextDraft newsletter and app, I am biased in every link I share and every word I write. I won’t keep pertinent news from readers and I save my most politically-motivated writing for other platforms (like here at Medium). But the issues raised by Buzzfeed go way beyond normal political discourse. Americans can disagree on the best ways to deal with terrorism or improve the economy, but when the discourse clearly sinks to the level of hate speech (and that’s according to his own party and key endorsers) against our fellow citizens, it’s time to draw a line in the sand, not stick your heads in it. If you’re a journalist or a publisher, you’re obligated to accurately quote Trump when he says he’s gonna build a wall, but you’re under no obligation to let him build a wall between your reporting and your ethics.

Kudos to Buzzfeed for being a watchdog, not a lapdog.

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