|Media 'In The Tank' For Liberals|
Tuesday October 31, 7:00 pm ET
Media Bias: Do journalists have an agenda this election season? It sure looks that way. A study released Tuesday by a media watchdog group concludes that news coverage on network TV skews heavily toward Democrats.
The study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs confirms what we've been saying for a long time: The media's liberal beliefs get in the way of honest reporting of elections and other key elements of our democracy, like the economy.
The study looked at midterm election stories on the evening newscasts of the Big Three -- ABC, CBS and NBC. It found that in the run-up to Tuesday's election, 77% of the coverage of Democrats has been positive, while 88% of the coverage of Republicans has skewed negative.
This bias is pervasive. It poisons our democracy and mocks the very idea of the Fourth Estate's vital constitutional role as an honest arbiter of information.
Here are just a few recent examples from this election cycle:
The New York Times decides it will endorse no Republicans -- none -- for office in any race for House or Senate. This breaks a tradition dating back to 1972 of endorsing at least one GOP member each year -- usually a liberal such as former New York Rep. Hamilton Fish or Connecticut Sen. Lowell Weicker.
Major news outlets, such as Newsweek, publish glowing reports on Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's prospects for the 2008 presidency -- even though he's a political neophyte with virtually no legislative record of note.
News outlets go into a frenzy over critical remarks made by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh of actor Michael J. Fox's support for Missouri's Proposition 2. Limbaugh apologizes, but the media virtually ignore the issue behind the proposition: whether human embryos should be destroyed for use in stem cell research.
The Washington Post continues its unrelenting negative coverage of Virginia Sen. George Allen's race for re-election, especially his allegedly racist use of the word "macaca," while ignoring or downplaying major questions about his opponent, Democrat James Webb.
Good news on the economy -- including solid GDP growth, 6.4 million new jobs, rising wages, a new high for the Dow industrials and a record $13 trillion increase in household wealth -- is ignored. Some news organizations darkly hint that one piece of obvious good news -- falling oil prices -- is really a conspiracy by a secretive cabal of oil industry leaders, led by President Bush.
John Kerry remarks to students that if they don't study hard, they might get "stuck in Iraq." At the least, it suggests contempt for the brave young men and women serving there. Though his comments are made in Pasadena, Calif. -- right in the Los Angeles Times' backyard -- the Times doesn't report them. (It does find room for a three-part, 15-page, 26-photo saga on "Chad and Dave," a gay couple from Atlanta who had twins through surrogate birth).
CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" airs footage showing enemy snipers targeting U.S. troops in Iraq, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, calls the CNN video "terrorist propaganda." The media just yawn.
We could go on and, yes, it's gotten that crazy. Everywhere you look, the evidence of media bias is overwhelming. Yet much of the media remain blindered -- almost as if they don't want to know how bad they've really become.
Newspapers got a reminder of this when the Audit Bureau of Circulation reported this week that readership of major metropolitan papers continues to slide. In the six months ended in September, circulation at major U.S. newspapers slid 2.8%. Decliners were led by the egregiously and at times laughably liberal L.A. Times, which plunged 8%. (IBD was up 2.5%).
Some of the drop is no doubt due to the advent of new media like the Internet. It's also clear that many people, disgruntled with the unchecked bias of the mainstream outlets, are finding their news, views and facts elsewhere.
Some in the big media are getting the idea. For instance, Mark Halperin, political director of ABC News who is on tour with his new book, is acknowledging that reporters' bias "tilts the coverage quite frequently, in many issues, in a liberal direction."
"Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace, a self-described Democrat, calls the media's blatant favoritism "astonishing." Meanwhile, liberal journalist Juan Williams agrees with the assertion that CNN is "in the tank" for the Democrats.
Small concessions, but important ones. As they say in the self-help community, the first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem. In the media's case, the problem is extreme bias. For the sake of American democracy, let's hope for a successful recovery.
Copyright 2006 Investor's Business Daily, Inc.