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FOX analysts lambast journalists who abstain from voting
David Edwards and Adam Doster
Published: Friday February 15, 2008

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If journalists vote, are they saddled with professional bias? A FOX News panel discussed the topic and came up with some strange analogies.

A column on the Politico written by journalist Mike Allen prompted the debate. "I'm part of a minority school of thought among journalists that we owe it to the people we cover, and to our readers, to remain agnostic about elections, even in private," he wrote. "I figure if the news media serves as an imperfect umpire, neither team wants us taking a few swings."

Republican strategist Christine O'Donnell differed wildly in her interpretation of the journalist's civic role. "Remember the first free elections in Afghanistan? The Taliban actually threatened death. They said that any woman who voted would have their fingers chopped off," she said. "Yet you saw news reports of women lined up around the polling places -- even if it meant that the terrorists were going to later chop off their fingers -- because they know what it means to vote in a free election."

ďAnd then to hear journalists say, 'I cannot be objective if I vote,' then you should not be a journalist," she added.

FOX News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. was almost as adamant as O'Donnell. "I think it's ridiculous," he exclaimed. "In fact it bothers me because it goes with the moral superiority that so-called journalists have, that their duty -- which is not codified, not written in any law, or not understood by most people -- is a higher responsibility than exercising the vote."

"Iím disturbed by it," he continued. "I think they should get real and act like real Americans."

Jim Vandeheoi, executive editor of the Politico, was taken aback by the flying accusations. He abstains from voting on elections he's covering directly, and can sympathize with his colleague.

"I take my voting as seriously as anyone else. I think every journalist does," he said. "I think when you are trying to create a publication like we are, saying that we are nonpartisan, going that extra step to make sure we can do everything thatís humanely possible to distance ourselves, it is a step you should take."

This video is from Fox's Live Desk, broadcast February 15, 2008.