Genuinely Fair
June 5, 2008 3:44 AM   Subscribe

Now that the primary season is over and major party nominees have been determined for the upcoming U.S. presidential and congressional elections, please help me find unbiased, non-partisan, impartial news and commentary outlets to follow the campaigns.

I would really like to avoid mouthpieces and parrots like Fox News, Kos, Sullivan, Reynolds, et. al. Presumably it is still actually possible to get balanced coverage of candidates, parties, and affiliations. Where are they? Any media are fine; TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet. As always, thanks in advance for your assistance.
posted by netbros to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
For more than a decade, Politics1 has been my first choice for political news, for the exact reaons you laid out - unbiased, impartial, and non-partisan. Ron Gunzburger, who runs the site, certainly has opinions (you can read his separate blog), but they don't seep into the Politics1 coverage at all.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:57 AM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

As close as I've seen is the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer.
posted by 517 at 4:16 AM on June 5, 2008

The Cook Political Report is the website of a very expensive print / electronic publication, headed by Charlie Cook a well-respected (afaict) pollster. The front page is a kind of blog, which is basically a lagged version of the real pub. So as long as you're okay with getting last week's insightful commentary on the state of races, then it's great. It's also got down ticket races, which many TV shows and other mass media don't.
posted by zpousman at 4:34 AM on June 5, 2008

I've been using Real Clear Politics to follow the primary season. They mostly link to off-site content, but they also have original op-ed pieces. Some articles might be tilted one way or another, but taken together they offer a pretty complete picture.
posted by Alison at 5:21 AM on June 5, 2008

I don't believe these is such a thing as an unbiased, impartial media source. Every news source has a level of interpretation on what was said.

I think it's more important to read a wide selection of sources to be as informed as possible.
posted by tobtoh at 6:44 AM on June 5, 2008

I've only started reading it recently, but the National Journal is allegedly the top Washington-insidery magazine out there. Its rankings of "most liberal/conservative" senators appear to attract a lot of methodological criticism, but its actual news items seem evenhanded.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:01 AM on June 5, 2008

I like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, at least as a starting point. Yeah, yeah, it's a stupid comedy show. But, if something important happens, they cover it, and they tend not to be idiots about it.
posted by Ms. Saint at 7:36 AM on June 5, 2008

I agree that there can be no single perfect unbiased news source. The facts are too often biased in one way or the other. When a news source makes an attempt to give both sides equal time in a story, it inevitably must mislead its readers by overstating the strengths of one side's argument.
posted by Dec One at 7:48 AM on June 5, 2008

Without a doubt I highly recommend FactCheck.Org. They lean neither way and hold both parties accountable. The site is not really suitable for daily updates but for times when you want to find out the truth on the ads and things that they are spouting off about and where they are getting their numbers (ie. Hillary says she has the most votes of any political figure, here's where they got those numbers, compare to this and that, etc.). I found it a prize resource during the 2004 election and you can subscribe to receive the updates via e-mail.
posted by genial at 7:54 AM on June 5, 2008

Your goal is mostly illusory. If you found a source that was truly impartial and perfectly balanced and so on, all it would give you was a dry display of facts, and it would have so much coverage that it would be impossible to get anything out of it. If you want coverage worth paying attention to and in-depth articles, you need to accept that this comes with people making (biased) choices about what to cover and people offering (biased) interpretations of what's going on.

Generally good coverage:

TV: BBC? Or, I haven't looked at it in a while, but the talking-heads-arguing show on Fox is pretty good -- the one that has Mara Liasson or Juan Williams. Seriously.
Print: the Economist, which is hardly unbiased but rather has its bias in large friendly letters at the top of each page. Get something more left-leaning to balance it if you want.
Radio: NPR, or BBC World Service if you use Sirius (or your car gets shortwave).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:55 AM on June 5, 2008

Bias is inevitable even if the source is trying to be unbiased. The best thing you can do is to read up on both/all sides and make your own decisions. Eventually you'll form your own opinions/filters and then you'll naturally gravitate to a given set of sources.
posted by pandanom at 8:12 AM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

The other point worth making, as well as Dec One's very sensible one above, is that "unbiased" sources usually just end up displaying a bias towards a centrist, mainstream, "establishment" position, which is just as much a subjective, opinionated position as a far-left or far-right one. This is another very good reason for reading across the spectrum of viewpoints rather than hoping for a neutral source.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:50 AM on June 5, 2008

I kinda like donklephant.
posted by misha at 9:17 AM on June 5, 2008

I've never noted any bias in's excellent and dispassionate daily news analysis. The publisher describes his personal and journalistic positions on the "Welcome" page:
I am a libertarian and lean towards the Democrats, but I have a lot of respect for traditional conservative Republicans like Sen. Barry Goldwater, who believed that what consenting adults do in private is none of the government's business. Like Goldwater and also Bill Clinton, I believe in balancing the federal budget. I also have a lot of respect for Sen. John McCain, who refused an offer to be released from prison in North Vietnam unless all the Americans captured before him were also released.

Despite my political preference, I have bent over backwards to be scrupulously honest about all the numbers, and have carefully designed the main page to be strictly nonpartisan. Only the political humor page is somewhat partisan.
posted by nicwolff at 9:26 AM on June 5, 2008

I like Project Vote Smart. They don't have any agenda other than non-partisan information about the candidates. It is a dry set of figures, essentially, but it's noise:static ratio is pretty low.
posted by fiercekitten at 9:42 AM on June 5, 2008

I'm a fan of — they can lean sort of leftish at times, but then that's also readily explained by the fact that the current presidential administration never misses a chance to miss a chance. Their political and social analysis and commentary is fresh and readable, while at the same time being non-asinine (which is a nice change of pace for political coverage).
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:58 PM on June 5, 2008

Thanks everyone.
posted by netbros at 12:50 PM on June 6, 2008

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