Wink and nudge required?

Greg Feltes

Last week’s photo poll on liberal bias in the media provoked quite a response from readers and polarized the entire campus.

In case you missed it, I randomly polled five people to find out if they thought the media was liberally biased. None saw any problem with the “fourth estate.” It should have ended right then and there.

However, the vast right-wing conspiracy sprung into action and tried to paint Sweeps as a liberal mouthpiece. Letters poured in and made their way into the editorial pages. Apparently, some people found it suspicious that I would happen to randomly interview a Democratic candidate for a local state senate seat, the founder of NIU’s Generation Dean, the president of NIU’s College Democrats and a Democratic Party chairwoman.

I am shocked at these allegations. The poll was completely random. I stood in the MLK Commons all day and stopped people as they walked by. It’s not my fault that the first five people that walked by that faithful day were liberals. It was just a coincidence and for anyone to suggest differently had better offer tangible proof.

For instance, they must know how I phoned and e-mailed each participant weeks in advance to set up a time to interview them. They must know how I drove to a Sycamore Park District office to track down one activist and showed up at the front door of another with little warning. They must know how I took special care to only identify each subject by their liberal associations and not the standard year and major. They must know how I cropped out my own forehead so an Obama sticker could be noticed on my shirt. In other words, they must know how to recognize a J-O-K-E when they see one.

One would think and hope most people wouldn’t take a photo poll on liberal bias featuring only liberals seriously, especially when it appears on a page that features Tony Danza’s mug in the top left hand corner on a daily basis, but sadly that wasn’t the case.

Many seized upon this obvious and intentional case of shoddy journalism as evidence that this newspaper worships at the altar of Howard Dean. As one reader wrote, “Instead, by publishing the poll as you did and quoting only Democrats, you have definitely confirmed to me that the Star, at least, has a liberal slant.”

Ironically, the letter featuring that quote appeared on the same page as an editorial titled “Malpractice bill is what the doctor ordered.” In that opinion piece, our editorial board argued that Illinois should put a cap on damages awarded in medical malpractice suits – a decidedly conservative take on an important issue. In fact, John Edwards was so angered that he called and said we couldn’t burn flags with him anymore.