noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the
Latin cor, meaning heart.
This Views Guest Column
December 30, 2002
Right-Wing Media Bias?
E.J. Dionne claims
the right has won the media-bias argument, even though he denies that it
existed in the first place:
To the extent that there has been a bias in the establishment media,
it has been less a liberal tilt than a preference for the values of the
educated, professional class which, surprise, surprise, is roughly
the class position of most journalists.
This meant that on social
and cultural issues abortion and religion come to mind journalism
was not particularly hospitable to conservative voices. But on economic
issues especially free trade and balanced budgets the press tilted
toward the center or even toward moderate conservatism. You might say
that the two groups most likely to be mistreated by the media were
religious conservatives and trade unionists.
What an arrogant and evasive passage. The values of the educated,
professional class reflect the sort of elitist liberalism that
conservatives have bemoaned for decades. Calling it something that sounds
prettier doesnt change that. And if youve got a group of so-called
objective journalists who vote Democratic at something like an
80-percent clip, isnt that a problem? As for Dionnes bit on social
issues, well, what he leaves out is as important as what he puts in.
Dionne is right about abortion and religion not getting covered properly.
But how about affirmative action (especially the horrendous coverage of
Proposition 209 in California) or virtually any story that touches on race? How about
immigration? Or homosexuality? Or AIDS? Apparently, those controversial
and divisive issues dont count in Dionnes reckoning.
As for the
economic angle, well, most of the liberal journalists I work with want
their 401(k) to do well. They like their Volvos with their Visualize
World Peace bumper stickers, and they love their Crate & Barrel home
decor. But that doesnt make them eligible for membership in the Cato
Institute. Theres a lot of evidence that even liberal journalists, much
like liberal politicians, will argue for balanced budgets and responsible
government spending while crusading against cuts to social programs. (Mickey Kaus, a liberal, has been
faithfully documenting big medias resistance to any evidence of progress
in welfare reform for a couple of years now.)
And once again, let
me repeat: Conservatives are glad to be finally getting a fair shake in
the field of punditry. Indeed, most of the intellectually engaging and
entertaining writers on editorial pages these days come from the right.
But conservatives (and a few liberals) also agree that a huge amount of
bias slips into straight news coverage, often in the form of supplying
context to a story. (The New York Times is notorious for doing
this, and is rightfully blasted for it by its many critics.) Hell, I
closely read dozens of stories every week that go into our newspaper. Does
screaming left-leaning bias leap out from every story? Of course not, and
I believe conservatives hurt their case by suggesting that it does. But
theres still enough to cause concern and to make me grumble as I push the