Jonah Goldberg

I think this illuminates the nature of liberal bias in the media. I've never believed that media bias is a conspiracy. It's more like background radiation, a certain set of unquestioned assumptions that tend to irradiate everything - the food, the water, the verbs, the nouns of mainstream news coverage. A place like CBS News is a real hot zone where the bias Geiger counter can break its arm off. For example, Daniel Schorr - the longtime CBS News reporter who now spends his time at National Public Radio - wrote in his autobiography, "Staying Tuned," about how many powerful people have called him an S.O.B. (though they didn't use the initials). Walter Cronkite himself blurbs the book as "Schorr's detailed report on why numerous heads of state and other officials have called him a [S.O.B.]"

Now, here's the thing. While Presidents and senators call Schorr the son of something that rhymes with witch, it's always for reporting from the left. Presidents Johnson and Nixon both called Schorr an S.O.B., but, as he freely admits, it was when Schorr zinged them from the left. Schorr boasts, for example, that his early "reporting" of Nixon "reflected the generally progressive" policies of the Nixon administration. But, when the creator of the EPA and affirmative action showed his "hostility to social betterment and civil rights," Schorr becomes a you-know-what and proudly so. This story, in various forms, repeats itself endlessly in his book.

Rather comes from the same school. Indeed, so does Walter Cronkite, who insisted for decades he wasn't liberal but now admits he's a fairly dull and conventional one. For years, Rather has spun his reporting in such a way that the government is an engine of progress and goodness, and that those who disagree are the very forces good journalism is supposed to combat.

Indeed, Rather's thinking has become axiomatic: Good reporting offends conservatives. I am a good reporter. Therefore, anyone who objects to my work is a conservative. And, of course, conservative objections are, by definition, illegitimate objections. After all, liberal media bias is a myth.

The fact is, good reporting isn't liberal or conservative - though it can be either. What good reporting does is expose those who would lie for a "higher truth." Which, ironically, is why so much of the criticism of Rather is not really "partisan" at all - it's good reporting.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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