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M E D I A   B I A S

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The question of whether or not there is and has been a discernable political tilt among the news media would seem to have been settled a couple of years ago in a poll which revealed that fewer than ten percent of Washington editors would identify themselves as "conservative." On top of what people can read and hear for themselves broadcast as "news" from the news elite, it would seem obvious that most of the press tend to word their stories in ways sympathetic to the public liberals. At least one self-described liberal bureau chief (Evan Thomas of Newsweek) agreed that this leftward preference is obvious.

But I can appreciate that it might be difficult to admit this. Part of the modern liberal mindset is the need to feel virtuous; the wish to believe oneself struggling against mighty forces of oppression and intolerance. Trouble is, it's hard to feel like a hero if it's admitted that the press--supposedly objective judges--are in fact tipping the scales in one's favor.

So to help those who are having trouble accepting reality, I've located a short collection of quotations taken directly from well-known reporters, journalists, and anchors over just the past ten years. Taken individually, each might be no more than a dumb remark... but taken together, the pattern of liberal advocacy becomes harder to dismiss with an airy wave and a glib one-liner.

The person who cares more for seeing the world as it is than for playing spin-doctor will, in my opinion, have no choice but to agree: Most media opinion-makers are biased to the Left.

See for yourself.


"When he entered the race nearly a year ago he had the courage to say that as President he would probably have to raise taxes. And he never recovered from his courage."
-- ABC's Peter Jennings on Bruce Babbitt's withdrawal from the presidential race, World News Tonight, February 18.

"As a practical matter, the homeless won't get very far unless they can persuade a Republican to break with Ronald Reagan's policies or elect a Democrat."
-- Newsweek Senior Editor Tom Mathews, March 21.


"Sadly, many home remedies could damage a fetus instead of kill it."
-- Newsweek Senior Editor Melinda Beck on self-performed abortions, July 17 issue.

"After eight years of what many saw as the Reagan Administration's benign neglect of the poor and studied indifference to civil rights, a lot of those who lived through this week in Overtown [rioting in a section of Miami] seemed to think the best thing about George Bush is that he is not Ronald Reagan...There is an Overtown in every big city in America. Pockets of misery made even meaner and more desperate the past eight years."
-- Reporter Richard Threlkeld on ABC's World News Tonight, January 20.

"The decade had its highs (Gorbachev, Bird)...and the decade had its lows (Reagan, AIDS)"
-- Boston Globe headline over two pages of '80s reviews by the paper's columnists, December 28.


"Gorbachev has probably moved more quickly than any person in the history of the world. Moving faster than Jesus Christ did. America is always lagging six months behind...I think we can get by easily with a $75 billion military budget. Those bombers and all of this stuff is an absolute waste of money and a joke."
-- Ted Turner, "TV chieftain with an outspoken conscience," celebrated in the January 22 Time.

"Few tears will be shed over the demise of the East German army, but what about East Germany's eighty symphony orchestras, bound to lose some subsidies, or the whole East German system, which covered everyone in a security blanket from day care to health care, from housing to education? Some people are beginning to express, if ever so slightly, nostalgia for that Berlin Wall."
-- CBS reporter Bob Simon on the March 16 Evening News.

"The bottom line is more tax money is going to be needed. Just how much will be the primary issue on the agenda when congressional leaders meet with the President later today, Wednesday, May the 9th, 1990. And good morning, welcome to Today. It's a Wednesday morning, a day when the budget picture, frankly, seems gloomier than ever. It now seems the time has come to pay the fiddler for our costly dance of the Reagan years."
-- Bryant Gumbel opening NBC's "Today", May 9.

"It's a morbid observation, but if everyone on earth just stopped breathing for an hour, the greenhouse effect would no longer be a problem."
-- Newsweek Senior Writer Jerry Adler, December 31, 1990 issue.


"And then there was Anita Hill, the poised daughter of so many generations of black women who have been burned carrying torches into the battle for principle. The cause of civil rights and social justice has so often fallen to them to defend. Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth were slaves by birth, freedom fighters by temperament. Rosa Parks was a tired seamstress who shoved history forward by refusing to give up her seat on the bus...The latest to claim her place in line is Anita Hill, a private, professional woman unwilling to relinquish her dignity without a fight."
-- Time Associate Editor Nancy Gibbs, October 21 issue.


"A Gulag Breeds Rage, Yes, but Also Serenity"
-- New York Times story on last Soviet political prisoners being released, February 12.

"Greenpeace, the public interest organization, believes that the Iraqi death toll, civilian and military, before and after the war, may be as high as 198,000. Allied military dead are counted in the low hundreds. The disparity is huge and somewhat embarrassing. And that's commentary for this evening, Tom."
-- NBC commentator John Chancellor a year after the Gulf War, March 12 Nightly News.

"The whole week was double-ply, wall-to-wall ugly...the Republican Party reached an unimaginable slouchy, and brazen, and constant, level of mendacity last week...(Bush) is in campaign mode now, which means mendacity doesn't matter, aggression is all and wall-to-wall ugly is the order of battle for the duration."
-- Senior Editor Joe Klein (AKA "Anonymous" of Primary Colors) on the Republican convention, August 31 Newsweek.

"Making headlines this morning: Bill Clinton comes up with a plan for the economy--tax the rich, cut the deficit, and help just about everyone."
-- CBS "This Morning" co-host Paula Zahn, June 22.


"If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners...Thank you very much and tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we're pulling for her."
-- Dan Rather at a May 27 CBS affiliates meeting talking via satellite to President Clinton about his new on-air partnership with Connie Chung

"Roger [Clinton]'s life is in some ways the story of any younger sibling clobbered by the spectacular success of the one who came before. The presidential brother syndrome. If your brother is Christ, you have a choice: become a disciple, or become an anti-christ, or find yourself caught somewhere between the two."
-- Washington Post reporter Laura Blumenfeld, January 24 Style section story

"She's [Hillary Clinton] ecumenical but prefers Italian and Mexican. The President fixes her eggs with jalapeno peppers on the weekends. One Christmas she served black beans and chili as part of a buffet. She carries Tabasco sauce wherever she goes...Valentine's Day at the Red Sage restaurant. Even at a romantic outing, the President can be the date from hell, talking to everyone but the girl he brung...Finally alone, they have 'painted soup' and the lamb baked in herbed bread. They exchange gifts and touch each other more in two hours than the Bushes did in four years."
-- Time reporter Margaret Carlson, June Vanity Fair

"If I'm a young black man in South Central L.A., where poverty is rampant and unemployment is skyrocketing, I see that Washington's promises of a year ago have gone unfulfilled, I see that perhaps for a second time, the court's inability to mete out justice in a blind fashion, why shouldn't I vent my anger?"
-- Bryant Gumbel to Rep. Maxine Waters, April 15 "Today".

"What do you do for an encore after ending the Cold War and reversing the arms race? How about saving the planet? That's the latest assignment for Mikhail Gorbachev, having assumed the presidency of the International Green Cross, a new environmental organization..."
-- Time's "The Week" section, May 3.

"Clinton is giving the best evidence yet of his approach to leadership. It's about understanding, not threats; accommodation, not confrontation; about getting people (or at least Democrats) to sing the same song. The style is reminiscent of another patient, nonjudgmental figure given to hugging in public: Barney the Dinosaur."
-- Newsweek reporters Howard Fineman and Eleanor Clift, August 9, 1993.


"Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two- year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It's clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It's the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week...Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old."
-- ABC anchor Peter Jennings in his daily ABC Radio commentary, November 14.

"To watch this President connect with people emotionally is an awesome thing. It's a raw, needy, palpable, electrifying thing that happens. There was no smile. It's as if he's soaking up the people like he's soaking up the sun, with the warmth pouring deep and direct into his political soul and recharging him, refilling him somehow once again with his own humanity and some sense of his role in the destiny of his country. Then, the hunger slaked, the great beast of Need fed once again, it seemed you could almost see the gratitude pouring off his brow like sweat as he made his way."
-- Washington Post reporter Phil McCombs, March 30 Style section story on Clinton vacationing in California.

"I was a correspondent in the White House in those days, and my work--which consisted of reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy--saddened me. My parents raised me to admire generosity and to feel pity. I had arrived in our nation's capital [in 1981] during a historic ascendancy of greed and hard-heartedness....Reagan couldn't tie his shoes if his life depended on it."
-- New York Times editorial page editor (and former Washington Bureau Chief) Howell Raines in his book Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis.

"Yes, the case is being fomented by right-wing nuts, and yes, she is not a very credible witness, and it's really not a law case at all...some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer parks... I think she's a dubious witness, I really do."
-- Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Evan Thomas on Paula Jones, May 7 "Inside Washington".

"I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease....He is an absolutely reprehensible person."
-- USA Today columnist and Pacifica Radio talk show host Julianne Malveaux on Justice Clarence Thomas, November 4 PBS "To the Contrary".


"When NBC Nightly News continues: in Washington, if they cut food stamps, who doesn't eat?"
-- Tom Brokaw, March 22.

"The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor."
-- Dan Rather, March 16 CBS Evening News.

"Next week on ABC's World News Tonight, a series of reports about our environment which will tell you precisely what the new Congress has in mind: the most frontal assault on the environment in 25 years. Is this what the country wants?"
-- Peter Jennings in an ABC promo during the July 9 This Week with David Brinkley.

"The noises coming from (Rep. Sonny) Bono and many of his fellow Republican signers of House Speaker Newt Gingrich's 'Contract with America' signal a radical shift in Congress's attitude toward environmental issues--a shift that may bode ill for the health of snail darters, spotted owls, and even the human species."
-- Time reporter Dick Thompson in a February 27 story headlined "Congressional Chain-Saw Massacre."

"I think he ought to be worried about what's going on in the Good Lord's mind, because if there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it."
-- National Public Radio and ABC News reporter Nina Totenberg reacting to Senator Jesse Helms's claim that the government spends too much on AIDS research, July 8 "Inside Washington".


"Do you think--this is a party that is dominated by men and this convention is dominated by men as well... Do you think before tonight they thought very much what happens in America with rape?"
-- Tom Brokaw to rape victim Jan Licence after her victims-rights speech, August 13 GOP convention coverage.

"It was grand TV, well-scripted, well-staged, craftily designed for a broadcast image of tolerance and diversity that's starkly at odds with reality."
-- ABC's Jim Wooten on Colin Powell's speech at the Republican convention, August 13 World News Tonight.

CBS reporter Eric Engberg: "...Okay, how about Forbes' number one wackiest flat tax promise?"
Steve Forbes: "Parents would have more time to spend with their children, and with each other."
Former IRS commissioner Donald Alexander: "That's right. The sky would be blue all the time."
Engberg: "The fact is, the flat tax is one giant untested theory. One economist suggested that before we risk putting it in, we ought to try it out someplace, like maybe Albania. Eric Engberg, CBS News, Washington."
-- Conclusion of February 8 CBS Evening News "Reality Check" segment on the Forbes flat tax.

"He (Ted Kaczynski) wasn't a hypocrite. He lived as he wrote. His manifesto, and there are a lot of things in it that I would agree with and a lot of other people would, that industrialization and pollution all are terrible things, but he carried it to an extreme, and obviously murder is something that is far beyond any political philosophy, but he had a bike. He didn't have any plumbing, he didn't have any electricity."
-- Time Washington reporter Elaine Shannon talking about the Unabomber, April 7 C-SPAN Sunday Journal.


Here's a recent example of how newspaper editors can slant headlines to produce a desired effect. Out of several headlines concerning the Clinton administration's transfer of U.S. military technology to China, do you notice anything different about the Washington Post headline?

"Eased export controls aided Beijing's missile technology"
-- Washington Times headline on its Web site reprinting of the May 7 story

"Panel Finds Harm in China Launchings"
-- New York Times headline on its Web site rendition of its story

"Less Than 10% of China's $300,000 Went to DNC, Report Indicates"
-- Washington Post headline, also from its Web site

[Some of this material was abstracted from the Web site of the Media Research Center.]

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