Liberal media doth protest too much

Posted: Sep 27, 2000 12:00 AM
Lately, I have read several articles defending the media against the charge of liberal bias. Methinks the libs protesteth too much. You won't read many pieces denying a conservative bias because the accusation isn't seriously made. The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz raises, then essentially answers in the negative, the question "Are the Media Tilting to Gore?" Listen to some of his proof: "Never mind that George W. Bush enjoyed a solid year of largely favorable press coverage while Gore was depicted as a bumbling, wardrobe-changing stiff." When did that "solid year" begin and end, Howie? Was it before or after the New York Times' Adam Clymer earned his pejorative nickname for doing a hit piece on Bush's Texas record, among other things? How "largely favorable" was press coverage that skewered Bush for invoking Christ in a debate? That did everything it could to lionize his principal primary challenger, John McCain? That portrayed his counterattack against Sen. McCain as a ruthlessly unfair offensive? Kurtz confesses the media's love affair with McCain, but denies it evidences liberalism. To him, it proves the opposite. "What's more, the media provided unusually upbeat coverage of John McCain, a conservative Republican, during the primaries." What? Forget McCain's prior voting record. During the primary season, which is the only relevant time period here, he was running decidedly to the left of Gov. Bush. That is when the media began glorifying McCain. Why wouldn't they, when McCain's signature issue (campaign finance reform) would effectively emasculate conservatives? I don't need to waste words citing the well-known statistics documenting the major media's overwhelmingly liberal worldview. It's an objective fact that they have admitted. What they refuse to acknowledge is that their ideology colors their reporting. The only thing more offensive to a liberal journalist than being called "conservative" -- which isn't going to happen -- is to be called "biased." Generally, their attitude is not unlike that of actor Andrew Shue, who, recently, on a Fox News talk show was shaking his head in derision at a conservative guest and extolling Al Gore's virtues, while professing his own political neutrality. "I consider myself in the middle," he said. "But Gore's positions are just common sense. And Bush would recklessly spend all of the surplus." I am sure that Shue believes he's non-biased or whatever makes him feel superior (and "cool"). I am also open to the possibility that some mainstream media players, such as Kurtz, are impervious to their own reporting bias, but their bias nonetheless exists. It's not just their saturation coverage of Bush's trivial gaffes, for example, contrasted with their casual dismissal of major Gore scandals (not to mention his minor gaffes). It is their editorializing within stories they pass off as objective news reporting, such as their erroneous description of McCain as a conservative Republican, that betrays their bias. Correspondent Cokie Roberts on ABC's "This Week" demonstrated the subtle technique of injecting the liberal bias when interviewing vice-presidential candidate Dick Cheney. Roberts, for the umpteenth time, asked Cheney about his conflict of interest in owning stock in Haliburton Company. As Cheney explained on that very show a few weeks before, his interests in the oil company are irrelevant because he has arranged to completely divest himself of them prior to taking office. When Cheney pointed out Gore's conflict of interest during his entire term in office as the sole beneficiary of his mother's trust, which owns a significant interest in Occidental Petroleum, Cokie objected that Gore had no present interest in his mother's trust. Surely you don't have to be a lawyer to understand that as sole beneficiary Gore's conflict is just as real. Why are reporters like Cokie exercised about Cheney's non-conflict and indifferent regarding Gore's actual conflict? Liberal blinders, perhaps? Similarly, Cokie challenged Cheney on whether he underwent as rigorous a vetting process as Bush's other vice-presidential choices. Doesn't Cokie know that Bush can select whomever he wants, using whatever process he chooses -- including consulting a Ouija board? There's nothing even conceivably improper here, yet Cokie planted a seed to the contrary. There are endless examples, and Cokie (whom I generally respect) is not even among the worst offenders. But you'll never convince the liberal media of their bias -- which goes a long way toward making my point.