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 Volume 2.17  This View’s Guest Column December 30, 2002 


         
   
Right-Wing Media Bias?
   
         
         
    Media Minder    
         
   

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 doesn’t change that. And if you’ve got a group of so-called “objective” journalists who vote Democratic at something like an 80-percent clip, isn’t that a problem? As for Dionne’s 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 don’t count in Dionne’s 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 doesn’t make them eligible for membership in the Cato Institute. There’s 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 media’s 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 there’s still enough to cause concern and to make me grumble as I push the “send” button.

Media Minded
December 6, 2002

© 2002 Media Minder. Used with permission.

   
         
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 Volume 2.17 This View’s Guest Column December 30, 2002 





The View from the Core, and all original material, © 2002 E. L. Core. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”