John Leo

As someone who has logged more than 30 years in the media echo chamber here in New York, I can confirm what Hume said. It is easier to discover a white truffle in Central Park than to find a reporter or editor who lacks the conventional set of newsroom opinions. (Well, almost.) The groupthink extends to welfare reform, the death penalty, school choice, racial preferences and the urgent need to smash the tobacco companies and penalize every last American who still smokes. Day care too. If any study shows that day care tends to have some bad effects on some children, the newsroom will erupt with articles proving the study untrue.

Justice Sandra O'Connor's recent speech in Minnesota expressing reservations about the death penalty was widely reported. But in the same talk she had some harsh things to say about contingency fees and "the perverse incentives and the untoward consequences" they are creating, along with all the "overnight millionaires" among high-flying trial lawyers. Strong stuff, but you probably missed it. A computer search showed only one paper outside Minnesota running the AP copy of O'Connor's litigation remarks. The newsroom looks kindly on trial lawyers. After all, they protect the common man and like the teachers' unions (always treated gently) they fund the Democratic Party.

The Boston Globe recently ran a long, admiring profile of Dianne Luby, the new head of Massachusetts Planned Parenthood. I was struck by how closely the article followed the promotional and fund-raising material of Planned Parenthood, presenting Luby as a lonely heroine ("Dianne Luby Braves Threats," said the subhead) beset by backward anti-abortion fanatics. In the newsroom culture, pro-choicers are allies; pro-lifers are dangerous zealots.

The newsroom is enormously fond of bias/disparity articles alleging that blacks get the short end of the stick in nearly every area of American life. Because these articles get so much space, activists turn out all the more bias surveys and allegations, many of them shaky.

Last week The Washington Post weighed in with a survey claiming that "whether out of hostility, indifference or simple lack of knowledge," "broadly misinformed whites" were guilty of "the pervasiveness of incorrect views." What did whites do wrong this time? Many think blacks are doing better economically than they really are. But why such a racial tongue-lashing over a belief (correct on the whole) that blacks are joining the middle class in great numbers? Because it "seems to explain, in part, white resistance to even the least intrusive forms of affirmative action" (ah, the point of the survey, reached at last -- a newsroom plug for preferences, disguised as a news story).

Britt Hume's remarks, quoted above, are from a magazine article trying to explain why Fox News is doing so well. There is a rather obvious explanation. Maybe a lot of people want to escape the newsroom monoculture. Just a thought.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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