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The State of the (Liberal) News Media
by La Shawn Barber
26 April 2004

Americans think journalists are sloppier, less professional, less moral, less caring, more biased, less honest about their mistakes and generally more harmful to democracy than they did in the 1980s.

The idea that we would set out, consciously or unconsciously, to put some kind of an ideological framework over what we’re doing is nonsense.
-- NBC’s Tom Brokaw, May 24, 2001.

Sorry, Tom, but you and the rest of the Bush-bashers have been exposed. Your industry is just finding out what the rest of America already knows: The mainstream media is biased toward the left.

Worthy of front page headlines, “The State of the News Media 2004” was released last month by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (“Project”) with little fanfare and scant coverage. Why?

“Americans think journalists are sloppier, less professional, less moral, less caring, more biased, less honest about their mistakes and generally more harmful to democracy than they did in the 1980s.” That’s why.

This is news only to the liberal media.

According to the report, 36 percent of Americans think news organizations are immoral, up from 13 percent. Fifty-nine percent of Americans think news organizations are politically biased, up from 45 percent. The believability of ABC News, CBS and NBC has declined.

Those findings were foreshadowed last summer when the Pew Research Center for People & the Press released similarly damning statistics. Sixty-six percent of FOX News viewers see the press as liberal, compared to 54 percent of network news viewers and 47 percent of CNN viewers. Twice as many Americans (51 percent) say the media is politically biased toward the left than say it’s conservative (26 percent).

In a classic understatement, the Project contended that there is a “disconnection between the public and the news media over motive.” Edward Seaton, former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, believes it’s just a matter of communication. He and his colleagues “need to work harder to explain what we do and why we do it,” he told the Boston Globe.

We already know what they do and why they do it. Whether they realize it or not, liberals in the media expose their biases by the way they cover issues like race, homosexuality, abortion, education and more recently, the war in Iraq.

The Media Research Center (MRC) uncovered anti-Bush bias on all three networks as they interviewed relatives of victims during the 9/11 Commission hearings. MRC reviewed all interview segments on ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’s The Early Show and NBC’s Today from March 23 through April 15, and found that in 23 interviews, 20 were critical of Bush while only 3 were not.

“Neither ABC nor CBS featured any morning interviews with pro-Bush relatives, while NBC squeezed in two Bush backers: Jim Boyle, the father of a New York firefighter killed on 9/11, appeared twice on the Today show, while Deborah Burlingame, the sister of one of the pilots on American Airlines Flight 77, appeared once,” MRC reported.

In Sunday’s Washington Post (April 18), reader ombudsman Michael Getler confessed that his newspaper played fast and loose with the facts. The President’s Daily Brief that Condoleezza Rice was grilled about indicated that the FBI noticed “patterns of suspicious activity…including surveillance of federal buildings in New York,” but the Post rendered the facts this way:

“President Bush was warned a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that the FBI had information that terrorists might be preparing for a hijacking in the United States and might be targeting a building in Lower Manhattan.” [emphasis mine] The impression is that President Bush knew the terrorists would attack the World Trade Center.

Getler sheepishly admitted that “readers who believe this introductory paragraph was, or could be seen as, misleading and conveying a political bias make a fair point, in my view.” That’s it. No apology or reprimand for the reporters’ creative writing exercise. All in the name of “public interest.”

Searching for a scapegoat for their colleagues’ own shortcomings and unethical behavior, the Project speculated that the “disconnect over the motives of journalists may have been exacerbated by the growing critique by conservatives over the last few years that most mainstream news organizations are distorting their coverage with an ideologically liberal agenda.”

That’s professional. When caught red-handed, point to the other guy. But the jig is up. The growing conservative voice in America has merely exposed the truth. The liberal media wants you to remain misinformed and manipulated while they push an agenda disguised as “news.” Americans are on to the Bush-bashing media, and their own study is a damning indictment against them.

La Shawn Barber, a columnist for American Daily, reviews books for Townhall.com. Visit her weblog at http://lashawnbarber.blogspot.com.

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