After the presidential election is over and the dust, animosity, glee and shock settle into something manageable, the nation will need to tackle the subject of “media bias” in a sincere and honest manner.
By Douglas MacKinnon
The New York Times
As an “independent conservative,” I’m expected to see liberal media bias lurking everywhere, but it’s not just me — and it’s not just conservatives. I know liberals, including newspaper editors, who think the “news” pendulum had swung dangerously far to the left.
Beyond recent studies by the Pew Research Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism, other research shows that the media has tilted to the left; indeed journalists themselves have openly admitted as much.
Under the recent headline “Why McCain Is Getting Hosed in the Press,” Politico editors John F. Harris and Jim Vandehei opined:
OK, let’s just get this over with: Yes, in the closing weeks of this election, John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting hosed in the press, and at Politico. And, yes, based on a combined 35 years in the news business we’d take an educated guess — nothing so scientific as a Pew study — that Obama will win the votes of probably 80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election. Most political journalists we know are centrists — instinctually skeptical of ideological zealotry — but with at least a mild liberal tilt to their thinking, particularly on social issues. So what?
“So what?” Those two cavalier words alone speak to the larger problem. Who cares if “80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election” will vote for Barack Obama? Journalists, their editors, management, the candidates and the American people should care.
Regarding the Obama phenomenon and the media fascination with him, a senior staffer for a rival Democrat primary opponent offered up this theory to me for part of the bias. This person reasoned that the pressure within the news business to diversify and be politically correct means more minorities, women and young people are being hired. And young and ethnically diverse reporters and editors go easier on candidates who look more like them, are closer to their age or represent their ideal of a presidential candidate.
Over at ABCnews.com, Michael S. Malone, a columnist, posted an article last week that created a firestorm of comment and interest. In part, he wrote: “The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game — with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates. The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling.”