Don't take my word for it. The ombudsman for The Washington Post acknowledges that conservatives have a point when they claim an imbalance in coverage of Barack Obama and John McCain.
In her Nov. 2 column, Deborah Howell writes, "...it's true that The Post, as well as much of the national news media, has written more stories and more favorable stories about Barack Obama than John McCain. Editors have their reasons for this, but conservatives are right that they often don't see their views reflected enough in the news pages."What might be "their reasons"? There is only one answer: Too many journalists have been in the tank for Obama and wanted to see him elected president. Some Post reporters (Howell doesn't say how many) "complained to me that suggestions for issues coverage have been turned aside" in favor of horse-race coverage, despite reader complaints about too much coverage of the race itself and not enough of the candidates' positions on the issues.
Journalism is the only profession I know that ignores the wishes of its consumers. If a department store found that most of its customers preferred over-the-calf socks to ankle-length socks, would that store ignore customer preferences for the longer socks because the president of the company preferred the ankle-length style? Not if the store wanted to make a profit in the sock department. Yet journalists have this attitude: "we know what's good for you, so shut up and take it."
Howell calls this arrogance, "a disease easily caught by journalists, who can overlook its symptoms." One sees this on cable TV. Larry King will assemble a "panel" of journalists to answer the question "Are the media biased?" The journalists declare they are not and that is supposed to settle the matter. In only the rarest of cases are they confronted with their biases and held accountable.
That is because, as Howell writes, "We believe that we have a collective 'nose for news' and the judgment to know best what readers need to know and how to present it. We believe in our own wisdom and experience and in the purity that keeps us out of politics and special-interest groups. We have our own rules and we don't change them. We seldom ask for input from readers. We believe that if it weren't for us, the world couldn't be as well informed and democracy wouldn't operate as it should."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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