newsweek nazi tweet

Let’s say right off the bat that this was a dumb idea. Newsweek senior writer Alex Nazaryan on Wednesday tweeted that “Ted Cruz has a strong ground game in Iowa" and attached a Nazi-era photo of people carrying swastika-emblazoned flags.

The tweet was over-the-line offensive, and the apology — directed toward Cruz supporters but not the Republican presidential candidate himself — wasn’t much better.

But can we stop holding this up as an example of the mainstream media’s liberal bias? It’s not — at least not in the way that conservatives usually talk about bias.

Conservatives’ beef with the media isn’t about just any kind of bias; it’s about hidden bias — progressive advocacy masquerading as objective reporting. I don’t think hidden bias is as pervasive as Cruz and other Republican candidates would have you believe, but I can’t say it doesn’t exist at all.

That’s a whole other argument; for the purposes of this one, let’s just agree that it’s a real thing — to some degree — and that it’s a problem. Readers/viewers/listeners should know what they’re getting — whether a story is informed by a particular point of view or is a good-faith attempt at impartiality.

When it comes to Nazaryan, there is no masquerade. He’s a former member of the editorial board at the left-leaning New York Daily News (whose recent covers have looked like this, this and this), and he’s pretty darned transparent about injecting opinion into his writing and about his opinion of Cruz.

And yet, some in the conservative media have acted as though Nazaryan’s inappropriate tweet was some kind of digital unmasking. Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience Wednesday that the tweet “illustrate[s] how much the mainstream media hates Ted Cruz” and all conservative Republicans.

The Blaze juxtaposed Nazaryan’s tweet against the ethical guidelines of IBT Media, Newsweek’s parent company, which state that a writer should “avoid any practice which might compromise or appear to compromise his objectivity or fairness.”

Most major news outlets have similar standards and require many of their reporters/writers to keep opinions to themselves but also grant some writers (columnists, analysts, commentators and such) a license to share their thoughts. Nazaryan has such a license. There’s nothing scandalous or conspiratorial about that.

He shouldn’t have sent the tweet. Even he — in his way — has acknowledged that much. But Nazaryan’s misguided missive doesn’t prove that the entire mainstream media carries a hidden bias against conservatives; it proves that he carries an overt bias against conservatives. And that was never really a secret.