When it comes to the media covering the Presidential elections, conservatives don't have a lot of trust in these institutions to present all the facts in a straightforward manner. The famous example is "Rathergate" in which Dan Rather attempted to create news about President George W. Bush in which he claimed to have authentic documents about Bush's service in the national guard only to have those documents exposed as forgeries.
The media has learned not to repeat the same mistake again. Rather than manufacture news based on falsified documents, the have shifted to a more subtle form of creating news by selectively editing important key facts. The most recent example of this tactic can be seen in the Treyvon Martin case in which NBC edited the 911 police call to make it look like George Zimmerman said "This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black" when in reality that is not what he said on the 911 police tapes. As a result, NBC is now conducting an internal investigation into a major breach of journalistic practices.
NBC pulled the same trick on Mitt Romney in which Martin Bashir aired an edited audio clip of an audience member asking a question about Romney's faith. Jeffery Meyer, pointed out that NBC distorted what Mitt Romney said because of their bias towards Republicans:
Bashir, who loves to attack Republicans on a daily basis, has decided to deliberately distort Romney and selectively edit his words so as to create a controversy where none exists. Such journalistic malpractice is unacceptable and MSNBC needs to be held accountable.
"Now, the brethren feel that it is not the wisest thing to cross racial lines in dating and marrying. There is no condemnation. We have had some of our fine young people who have crossed the lines. We hope they will be very happy, but experience of the brethren through a hundred years has proved to us that marriage is a very difficult thing under any circumstances and the difficulty increases in interrace marriages." (Source: Interracial Marriage Discouraged", Church News, June 17, 1978, p. 2.)
Here's another statement from Spencer W. Kimball:
“When I said you must teach your people to overcome their prejudices and accept the Indians, I did not mean that you would encourage intermarriage. I mean that they should be brothers, to worship together and to work together and to play together; but we must discourage intermarriage, not because it is sin. I would like to make this very emphatic. A couple has not committed sin if an Indian boy and a white girl are married, or vice versa. It isn’t a transgression like the transgressions of which many are guilty. But it is not expedient. Marriage statistics and our general experience convince us that marriage is not easy. It is difficult when all factors are favorable. The divorces increase constantly, even where the spouses have the same general background of race, religion, finances, education, and otherwise. ” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,” p. 302)
Another favorite tactic of the media is not distort the facts but to distort the viewer's perception of the facts as to elicit the desired response or reaction from the viewing audience either by reaffirming their biases or introducing them to it. Watch the clip for textbook application of this tactic below:
In this case, O'Donnell admits his bias towards the LDS religion. As a result, O'Donnell isn't educating the public about the news as a news reporter should, but is preaching his gospel of religious bigotry to anyone who will listen. As a result, those who are already biased towards the LDS faith will have their beliefs reaffirmed and those who haven't had such a bias are now potentially infected with it.
The reason why the media has been dishonest in the way they cover Mitt Romney's faith is because many members of the media are liberal and are hostile to religion. Nancy French explains why the media has been untruthful about Mitt Romney's faith:
Secular leftists are often quite religious in their zeal to attack traditional values, and I’d say that they have Mormons in their crosshairs in large part because they’re quite effective in defending our culture. After all, there’s only 6 million Mormons in America, yet the media Left — from HBO to PBS to Broadway — has spent much of the last two election cycles flailing away at the LDS church.In other words, the secular Left hates Mormons because they see the LDS church as a part of the same Judeo-Christian tradition we belong to; the same Judeo-Christian tradition they so despise.
John Schroeder over at Article6 blog explains why the intentional distortion towards Mitt Romney's faith is unacceptable for a religiously diverse country as ours:
We cannot take this bait. These kinds of assaults – the “weirdness” of proxy baptism, polygamy as a justification for illicit sex – may have some appeal if you think Mormonism a “false” religion. But here is the thing. In a religiously pluralistic society like ours, if it stands against them, something similar will stand against us.
Last year, it was revealed that Obama planned on attacking Mitt Romney's faith but that idea was immediately ridiculed. Recently, Senator Orrin Hatch asserted that Obama would go after Romney's faith and many Democrats immediately denied Obama would do that. The President knows he can't get 6 million Mormons in the United States to vote for him and that he may not have it in his election strategy to make Romney's faith an issue in the campaign. However, those in the media have already made it an issue in this election in which they will discourage as many Americans as they can to not vote for Romney by intentionally distorting their coverage of his faith.