Thomas Sowell

MEDIA bias is no longer news. Poll after poll has shown that the vast majority of journalists vote for Democrats, even though the country as a whole is pretty evenly split between the two major parties.

By itself, there is nothing wrong with this. It becomes a problem when media bias becomes media fraud. Media bias in editorials and columns is one thing. Media fraud in reporting "facts" in news stories is something else.

Three excellent and devastating new books on media fraud have been published this year, naming names and turning over rocks to show what is crawling underneath. These books are "Coloring the News" by William McGowan, "Bias" by Bernard Goldberg, and "It Ain't Necessarily So" by David Murray, Joel Schwartz and S. Robert Lichter.

In even the best known and most prestigious media outlets -- The New York Times and "60 Minutes," for example -- crucial facts have been left out of news stories when those facts would have undermined or destroyed a liberal argument. Conversely, false claims have been widely reported as facts in the media when those claims supported the liberal vision of the world.

A classic media fraud was the 1996 story of a wave of arsons directed against black churches by racists. It made headlines across the country and was featured on network television news. It sparked indignant editorials and angry outbursts from black activists. The President of the United States recalled his own sadness as a child at the burning down of black churches in Arkansas.

In the end, however, the whole thing turned out to be completely false. Those few journalists who bothered to check out the facts found that there were no facts to support this story and that what facts there were completely refuted it. Even a commission appointed by President Clinton reached the same conclusion. Moreover, not a single black church in Arkansas had burned down during Bill Clinton's childhood.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate