Paul Jacob

In strategy meetings through the years, I’ve often heard conservative and Republican operatives complain, “If the mainstream media would only cover the issue fairly . . .”

My advice? Don’t hold your breath.

In lively discussions with friends from across the political spectrum, including a journalist or two, I’ve debated the proposition of whether a “liberal media bias” even exists. Without resolution.

Consensus aside, though, I’ve determined it über-exists — resting my judgment on two things: (1) surveys of the Washington press corps over the past decades, showing its members to be consistently and overwhelmingly liberal, and in turn voting Democratic, and (2) my personal experience with reporters and editors over the last 35 years.

And now, add to my personal list of anecdotal evidence two self-disclosures from important journalists in recent months.

Last October, in the wake of the disastrous rollout of Obamacare via the healthcare.gov website, National Journal’s Ron Fournier told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, “[The Obama Administration] really had to get this right, not just for the healthcare reform, but for the whole ideathat a lot of us believe in — that a strong, effective government can help people through this huge economic and social transition we’re going through.”

Fournier admitted that this federal government failure undermined the “central argument that we’re having in this country” — namely, whether bigger and bigger government makes life better and better.

Fournier is not just any journalist: he serves as senior political columnist and editorial director of the prestigious National Journal. Before that, he worked for the Associated Press for 20 years, moving up to Washington bureau chief.

As top banana at the DC bureau, Fournier instituted a controversial policy that he called “accountability journalism.” The idea? Tell the readers who is right or wrong. Fournier called it being “provocative without being partisan. . . truth-tellers without being editorial writers.”

“It seems to me there’s a conscious effort to inject bias in the story,” Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto offered in describing the new policy, “though obviously Fournier would see it differently.”

The point here isn’t that Ron Fournier is a “bad” man. I’ve spoken with him and found him pleasant enough. The fact that he and I don’t agree on public policy is hardly earth-shattering, insidious or actionable. He has a right to write as he pleases and the publications he works for to print whatever they wish.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.