Walter Cronkite, when asked whether he agreed that liberals dominated the major news media, told me, "Yes -- if by liberal you mean open-minded."
Are liberals more "open-minded" than conservatives?
To find out, a biennial survey conducted by the University of Michigan's American National Election Studies uses a scale from 0 to 100 -- 0 meaning shoot-the-person-on-sight hatred, and 100 meaning find-a-place-for-him-on-Mount-Rushmore adoration. The 2004 survey then asked 1,200 adults to define themselves politically.
Using this 0-to-100 scale, the survey asked those who described themselves as "conservative" or "extremely conservative" to rate "liberals." Average score -- 39. "Liberals" and "extreme liberals" gave "conservatives" a similar score -- 38.
But the survey then asked respondents to apply the scale to specific people. How did "extreme conservatives," in 1998, rate then-President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore? "Extreme conservatives" gave them both an average reading of 45. Twenty-eight percent gave Clinton a 0, with 10 percent giving that score to Gore.
How did "extreme liberals" rate President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in 2004? That group gave Bush and Cheney an average temperature of 15 and 16, respectively. Sixty percent of these extreme liberals gave Messrs. Bush and Cheney a 0. In other words, six out of ten Americans on the far left found that no evil, heinous person in the world could be worthy of more hatred than Bush and Cheney. For a little perspective, the then-alive Saddam Hussein received an average score of 8 from all Americans.
Dick Morris, a former aide to Bill Clinton, described how Clinton berated his 1996 Republican opponent, former Sen. Bob Dole. President Clinton said, "Bob Dole is not a nice man. Bob Dole is evil. The things he wants to do to children are evil. The things he wants to do to poor people and old people and sick people are evil. Let's get that straight."
After Republicans took control of the House in the mid-'90s, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., compared the newly conservative-controlled House to "the Duma and the Reichstag." Dingell referred to the legislature set up by Czar Nicholas II of Russia and the parliament of the German Weimar Republic that brought Hitler to power.
Comparing Republicans to Nazis remains a favorite pastime of some Democrats. Billionaire Democratic contributor George Soros said the Bush White House displays the "supremacist ideology of Nazi Germany," and that the administration uses rhetoric that echoes his childhood in occupied Hungary. "When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,'" Soros said, "it reminds me of the Germans."