[UPDATE, 1:50PM--it is indeed an elaborate joke.]
This is timely, because in the ongoing discussion of media bias, I have wanted to make the point that fairness, balance, and objectivity are not all the same things. Dominic Holden makes a very good point of one distinction in introducing Mr. McKenna this morning:
It's no secret to readers of The Stranger that we're in the tank for Jay Inslee, the Democrat running for Washington State governor. Hell, writers on our staff have donated to Inslee and even filed a No ROB PAC.Thus, one can be fair, without necessarily being strictly "balanced." [And, it turns out, this is the case of The Stranger being neither fair nor balanced, but definitely making their biases clear.]
The Stranger isn't always balanced, but we do try to be fair. And in the interests of fairness and balance, Rob McKenna will be blogging in this space today. We were actually impressed when McKenna agreed to post on Slog—maybe he is a different kind of Republican after all?—and we encourage readers to engage with McKenna respectfully in the comments threads.
"Objectivity" is, to my mind, both the highest ideal for a news organization and the most difficult to achieve and maintain; simply put, humans are not actually capable of being truly objective. In the journalistic context, objectivity tends to refer to presentation of independent facts without judgement, and in as neutral a way as possible.
It gets complicated, however, when objectivity becomes conflated with balance. In some arguments, the objective facts really do favor one side. To pick (what at least ought to be) an easy example: there is a mountain of scientific evidence supporting the general notion that the earth is a couple of billion years old, that life arose in single-cell form here about a billion years ago, evolved into progressively more complex forms, and that the first hominids arose from this process about 15 million years ago, the first anatomically modern humans 200,000 years ago, and the first behaviorally modern humans about 50,000 years ago.
An alternative view exists, which posits that the world and mankind were created by God in the space of a week about 6000 years ago.* The evidence for this view consists of very old mythological texts, dubious pseudoscience, and the fervent beliefs of some people.
To give equal weight and time to both arguments would certainly be balanced. It may even be fair. But it is not objective.
*And of course, a host of views exist which posit theistic evolution with the biblical account being a metaphorical description of the scientific one, which is fine and good. These generally aren't the people who go to school board meetings and bitch about "teaching the debate".