Lately, I have read several articles defending the media against the
charge of liberal bias. Methinks the libs protesteth too much. You won’t
read many pieces denying a conservative bias because the accusation
isn’t seriously made.
The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz raises, then essentially answers
in the negative, the question “Are the Media Tilting to Gore?” Listen to
some of his proof:
“Never mind that George W. Bush enjoyed a solid year of largely
favorable press coverage while Gore was depicted as a bumbling,
wardrobe-changing stiff.” When did that “solid year” begin and end,
Howie? Was it before or after the New York Times’ Adam Clymer earned his
pejorative nickname for doing a hit piece on Bush’s Texas record, among
How “largely favorable” was press coverage that skewered Bush for
invoking Christ in a debate? That did everything it could to lionize his
principal primary challenger, John McCain? That portrayed his
counterattack against Sen. McCain as a ruthlessly unfair offensive?
Kurtz confesses the media’s love affair with McCain, but denies it
evidences liberalism. To him, it proves the opposite. “What’s more, the
media provided unusually upbeat coverage of John McCain, a conservative
Republican, during the primaries.” What?
Forget McCain’s prior voting record. During the primary season, which
is the only relevant time period here, he was running decidedly to the
left of Gov. Bush. That is when the media began glorifying McCain. Why
wouldn’t they, when McCain’s signature issue (campaign finance reform)
would effectively emasculate conservatives?
I don’t need to waste words citing the well-known statistics
documenting the major media’s overwhelmingly liberal worldview. It’s an
objective fact that they have admitted. What they refuse to acknowledge
is that their ideology colors their reporting. The only thing more
offensive to a liberal journalist than being called “conservative” —
which isn’t going to happen — is to be called “biased.”
Generally, their attitude is not unlike that of actor Andrew Shue,
who, recently, on a Fox News talk show was shaking his head in derision
at a conservative guest and extolling Al Gore’s virtues, while
professing his own political neutrality. “I consider myself in the
middle,” he said. “But Gore’s positions are just common sense. And Bush
would recklessly spend all of the surplus.” I am sure that Shue believes
he’s non-biased or whatever makes him feel superior (and “cool”).
I am also open to the possibility that some mainstream media players,
such as Kurtz, are impervious to their own reporting bias, but their
bias nonetheless exists.
It’s not just their saturation coverage of Bush’s trivial gaffes, for
example, contrasted with their casual dismissal of major Gore scandals
(not to mention his minor gaffes). It is their editorializing within
stories they pass off as objective news reporting, such as their
erroneous description of McCain as a conservative Republican, that
betrays their bias.
Correspondent Cokie Roberts on ABC’s “This Week” demonstrated the
subtle technique of injecting the liberal bias when interviewing
vice-presidential candidate Dick Cheney. Roberts, for the umpteenth
time, asked Cheney about his conflict of interest in owning stock in
Haliburton Company. As Cheney explained on that very show a few weeks
before, his interests in the oil company are irrelevant because he has
arranged to completely divest himself of them prior to taking office.
When Cheney pointed out Gore’s conflict of interest during his entire
term in office as the sole beneficiary of his mother’s trust, which owns
a significant interest in Occidental Petroleum, Cokie objected that Gore
had no present interest in his mother’s trust. Surely you don’t have to
be a lawyer to understand that as sole beneficiary Gore’s conflict is
just as real. Why are reporters like Cokie exercised about Cheney’s
non-conflict and indifferent regarding Gore’s actual conflict? Liberal
Similarly, Cokie challenged Cheney on whether he underwent as
rigorous a vetting process as Bush’s other vice-presidential choices.
Doesn’t Cokie know that Bush can select whomever he wants, using
whatever process he chooses — including consulting a Ouija board?
There’s nothing even conceivably improper here, yet Cokie planted a seed
to the contrary.
There are endless examples, and Cokie (whom I generally respect) is
not even among the worst offenders. But you’ll never convince the
liberal media of their bias — which goes a long way toward making my