There aren’t many things Conservatives accept as readily as the statement ‘the media is liberally biased.’ I have also accepted this as a truism for as long as I can remember. The thing is though, not all of the things we believe are actually true. The question we should be asking is ‘what does the data show?’
The anecdotal evidence is simply overwhelming. Examples over the past thirty years more than prove the case, but before I get into some highlights (lowlights?) I want to actually present the data. In the last election cycle, self-identified members of the media contributed to Barack Obama over John McCain by a margin of 100:1. That’s a HUGE disparity. If the United States leaned that far left – that is, if the media’s donations were simply representative of the nation as a whole – there wouldn’t be a single Republican office-holder in the country. Even FOX News, the supposedly conservative bastion in the media, racked up donations totaling $41,000 to Democrats and literally nothing to Republicans in 2008. The media is simply not representative of America, yet they determine what we think about nearly every issue imaginable.
Many credit the beginnings of this bias (unsurprisingly) to the New York Times reporter Watler Duranty deliberately sought to hide the extent of the Ukranian famine which killed millions in the 1930s. For his deception, he was awarded the Pulitzer. After his lies were exposed, the Pulitzer committee convened and determined his work was “gravely defective.” Even with that admission, they chose not to revoke his award saying, “a Pulitzer Prize for reporting is awarded not for the author’s body of work or for the author’s character but for the specific pieces entered in the competition.”
We saw a variation on that theme as recently as the Duke Lacrosse Rape That Wasn’t when the media proclaimed the members of the team guilty weeks before any facts were known. After it was discovered that Nifong deliberately hid evidence exonerating the defendants, Good Morning America anchor Chris Cuomo acknowledged, “it was difficult to report on this story fairly because there was so much pressure about pushing the angle that something had to happen. Something had to happen. It couldn’t be nothing.” There was a preconceived notion that the white kids HAD to be guilty. That preconception drove media coverage until it was impossible to continue.
Today, the double-standards in the media are even worse. How many outside of conservative blogs are aware that Obama claimed to have visited 57 states? Imagine the media coverage had Palin or Bush made that exact same statement. There is no coverage, however, because The Narrative tells us that Obama is smart, Palin and Bush are stupid. Of course, Obama doesn’t actually think there are 57 states – he misspoke. The issue though, is the double-standard. Where was Leno replaying that clip over and over?
With the passage of the Stimulus and it’s resulting failure to accomplish anything positive, (it actually made things WORSE) critics on the right became louder in their complaints over unsustainable Federal spending. The left – because they had no other response – began the ‘but the other guy did it too’ rebuttal. Many pundits in the media began asking where the Tea Party was during the Bush years. Left-leaning media outlets asked why paying for Iraq and Afghanistan were tolerable but paying to prop up the economy was not. There are two basic responses here, and both are factual. First – there was a massive outcry on the right over Bush’s spending. Fiscal conservatives consistently attacked him for the Bush Bailouts. Secondly, the media fail to note – and so most Americans do not know – that Obama spent more with one signature than the entire cost of the war in Iraq.
The conflict in Libya is another perfect example of the media’s leftward leanings. To my knowledge, this is the first time in history the Department of Defense has tried to stop military action while the State Department twists itself in knots trying to justify its existence. It has now been revealed (by the NYTimes, no less) that Obama overruled his own Justice Department lawyers who advised him he could no longer legally continue military action. The media refuse to press the issue, and have completely ignored the fact that Obama justified our action in Libya by citing the War Powers Act, but then claimed the War Powers Act wasn’t applicable when the deadline it contained passed. Imagine the outcry had Bush been advised the war in Iraq was illegal and pursued its execution without Congressional authorization.
Even in their coverage of current events, the media demonstrates unbelievable bias. Imagine it it had been revealed that President Bush’s Justice Department had instructed the ATF to allow known illegal gun purchases to go through, watch those guns be delivered to Mexico and then be used to kill Federal Agents. Obama’s Justice Department is doing PRECISELY that with Operation Fast and Furious – otherwise known as Project Gunrunner. Though the coverage exists, does anyone think for a second that this wouldn’t be the end of a Republican Administration?
Sometimes, what the media DOESN’T report is indicative of bias. We caught a brief glimpse of that refusal bias during the beginnings of the Weiner scandal, but that soon grew too large to contain. The media also sat on the Lewinsky story until Drudge broke it, allowing the left to pursue it’s ever-ready ‘attack the messenger’ defense. The single greatest example of refusal-bias in the media, however, has to be its handling of the John Edwards scandal. The National Enquirer broke the story after major media outlets ignored it. That, in and of itself, is significant, but also consider the timing. The story broke during the Democratic Primary. Edwards voters mostly preferred Hillary to Obama and likely would have transferred their votes to her. Coming off a win in Iowa, would Clinton have been unstoppable? Would we have a different president had the media done their jobs? Hillary certainly thinks so.
There is clearly a massive left-leaning bias in today’s mainstream media. This is not a new phenomenon, but with the advent of the internet, it is easier to identify and track. Bloggers are routinely demonized (see: Drudge, Breitbart) when they break stories harmful to Democrats, but time and again, they are exonerated by the facts.
What will it take to change the media bias that exists today? They can’t be voted out and they don’t seem to care about horrible ratings. If the free market can’t change them, what can?