M E D I A B I A S
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."
"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."
"Sadly, many home remedies could damage a fetus instead of kill it."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"A Gulag Breeds Rage, Yes, but Also Serenity"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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?"
"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..."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"When NBC Nightly News continues: in Washington, if they cut food stamps, who doesn't eat?"
"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."
"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?"
"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."
"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."
"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?"
"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."
CBS reporter Eric Engberg: "...Okay, how about Forbes' number one wackiest flat tax promise?"
"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."
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"
"Panel Finds Harm in China Launchings"
"Less Than 10% of China's $300,000 Went to DNC, Report Indicates"
[Some of this material was abstracted from the Web site of the Media Research Center.]