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Monday, April 16, 2012

Neutral Objective Facts

Robert S. McCain
Why have the major media become more liberal than ever?

Suppose that you picked up your paper this morning and the top story on the front page began something like this:

Timothy Geithner proved himself as incompetent at political spin as he is at tax evasion, attempting Sunday to convince Americans that President Obama's economic policies "were incredibly effective."
In a series of televised interviews on all three major broadcast networks, the bumbling and dishonest Treasury Secretary lamely attempted to defend the failed policies of the incumbent Democrat, while dismissing as "ridiculous" and "misleading" recent comments by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate who hopes to replace the administration's wrongheaded statist policies with a growth-oriented program of tax reduction and deregulation.

You won't find such an article on the front page of today's papers. This is not how the story will be reported by the Washington Post, the New York Times or USA Today, nor will you see this kind of blatant tendentiousness in whatever accounts the Associated Press or other syndicates provide for the major metro dailies. Nevertheless, this story as reported by "mainstream" news organizations will not be entirely free of a perceptible slant, and conservatives have asserted for decades that the media are guilty of a liberal bias, providing ostensibly "objective" reporting that in fact clearly favors Democrats.

Conservative efforts to counterbalance such bias have taken many forms over the years, including the publication of journals such as The American Spectator and the formation of such organization as the Media Research Center. Talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham have flourished as part of the conservative pushback against media bias, as have websites like Hot Air, daily papers like the Washington Times and, perhaps most famously, the Fox News Channel. It is interesting to observe, however, that this concerted pushback has had a mixed record of success. The "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy," as Hillary Clinton dubbed it in 1998, was incapable of persuading a majority of Americans that Mrs. Clinton's husband should be drummed out of office for his "high crimes and misdemeanors." Similarly, conservative alternative media could not prevent Democrats from winning control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections, nor prevent Obama's 2008 election. And, although Republicans took back Congress in a historic 2010 midterm landslide, the prospects for defeating Obama's re-election bid and unseating Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader are uncertain at best, despite what most conservatives would view as the demonstrable failures of Democratic Party policies. Thus the question arises: "What are conservatives doing wrong in their efforts to expose, correct and offset liberal media bias?"

One answer to that question is to consider the obverse of the problem: What have liberals been doing right? Despite all the changes in the journalistic ecology in recent years, one fact has remained constant: Liberals dominate the "mainstream" media, both in absolute numbers and in terms of power and prestige. Consider the fact that Obama's White House spokesman, Jay Carney, is a former Time magazine reporter whose wife, Claire Shipman, is employed as a reporter by ABC News. The same network employs, both as anchor of Good Morning America and as host of its Sunday program This Week, veteran Democratic Party operative George Stephanopoulos. From this simple handful of facts, we may conclude that if ABC News should ever be accused of fairness toward Republicans in its political coverage, we would have to classify this as an inexplicable accident or perhaps even a miracle.

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