Bill Maher Staffer: Reporters Recommending Liberal Ideas Are Like Dentists Endorsing a Toothbrush

There are two recent arguments on The Huffington Post about liberal media bias. Inside the media elite, the bias deniers were represented by former ABC News president David Westin boasting Martha Raddatz somehow won the bias debate as she moderated Biden and Ryan in Kentucky.

Then there are the effects deniers, represented by Scott Stenholm, a staffer for Bill Maher’s show Real Time on HBO. Citing the MRC’s Tell the Truth campaign, he admitted the media were biased, but that the country keeps electing Republican presidents, so how effective is the tilt? Stenholm thinks the country should be embracing the liberal media's hard-earned expertise.

During the Republican National Convention in Tampa last August, a billboard over a local freeway opined, "Don't Trust the Liberal Media." In the same month, disgraced Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin accused the "liberal media" as out to get him. [As if they weren’t?]

Last February, The Media Research Center, a watchdog group that monitors "liberal bias in the news", had two large billboards erected in New York City's Times Square with the words "Don't Believe the Liberal Media!" The group's president explained, "We promised this 2012 campaign would be the most expansive, most exhaustive and consequently the most expensive operation in our 25 years... this is the most important election in our lifetime and the American people are sick and tired of the left-wing media deciding who will govern our country."

It is worth noting that the last 60 years have seen six Republican presidents with a combined time in office of just over thirty-six years compared to five Democratic presidents with only twenty-three years in office -- so how effective the "left-wing media" has been in deciding who will govern our country is questionable.

Stenholm also trotted out the bizarre notion that the GOP is now so beyond Reagan in its conservatism,"a recent and massive shift by Republican lawmakers, and their conservative constituents, to the far right wing of their party, what was once labeled 'liberal' now includes formerly moderate, independent, and even some right-of-center beliefs." He admits it's a "valid argument" that the media lean left.

But what is never answered when Ryan and others paint the media in such a partisan way is why that is. Why is the mainstream news media so historically liberally biased?

The same liberal media that makes up the vast majority of our war correspondence, our White House and congressional correspondence and our daily news briefings that cover every area of foreign affairs and domestic policy, and it all airs or streams twenty-four hours a day, everyday of the year. So couldn't it be argued that it is members of the news media that are the most qualified to pick a side?

As a liberal myself, I am proud that the news media often leans left. The fact that it is their sole purpose to intricately monitor our laws, our lawmakers, our wars, our allies and enemies, our domestic and foreign policy, our current events, only makes me confident that I am leaning the right way. I would rather my ideology be in line with the reporters embedded with our troops on the battlefield, or with a veteran newsman who has covered Congress and the White House for twenty-plus years. Simplistically, I would compare this to buying a toothbrush that four out of five dentists agree is the right choice -- I'll take that one.

Furthermore, is it that liberals are drawn to a career covering the news or is covering the news making them more progressive? I would more likely believe the latter. Are we to believe that it is a giant conspiracy that is sending all these liberal kids into a life of reporting the news? Not likely.

Stenholm summed it up: "So while the 'liberal media' does not seem to be having a dramatic effect on ideology it does beg the question -- shouldn't the country be leaning in the same ideological direction as the people who cover this stuff for a living?"

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis