The Damage That Media Bias Wreaks

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Oct 21, 2008 12:13 PM
The Wall Street Journal's ironically-titled "Political Wisdom" provides a stellar example of how media bias actually works.  "Given that it now appears Gov. Sarah Palin will finish the campaign without ever holding a press conference or making an appearance on the Sunday interview shows," the blurb asks, "is it worth covering Palin at all ?"

It cites to a Christopher Hitchens column.  Well, maybe Hitchens didn't know when he wrote the original piece, but surely "Political Wisdom" would have been aware before citing it that, as CBS reported yesterday, Sarah Palin has been more accessible to the press than any of the three men on the tickets

That's exhibit 1, and it is the kind of "journalism" that gives credence to charges of media bias.  It builds on the conventional wisdom among the chattering classes, and spreads it in defiance of facts.  People don't get the truth because, too often, those who are supposed to be reporting it are trapped in a web of their own assumptions.

The second example of that phenomenon pertains to this post yesterday -- where I listed the examples of all the polls supposedly pointing to a nearly-inevitable Kerry victory at about this time four years ago.  It seems that the press routinely predicts Dem victories -- could it be because everyone they know wouldn't dream of voting for anyone but a Democrat, and so they tend to over-generalize those sentiments to extend to the rest of the country?

Whatever the reason, it's dangerous and regrettable.  It raises the hopes of the left and Democrats to a pitch somewhere near certainty that they will win.  Then, if they don't pull it out, they're left feeling bitter and cheated, because they had been so sure they would triumph (thanks to the overly optimistic reportage).  And it poisons the well -- and the country -- for those who do win in defiance of press predictions.