New York Times Quizzically Ponders ‘Conservatives as Defenders of the Media’

In Monday’s New York Times, reporter Amy Chozick explored how the James Rosen leak probe has turned the media debate upside down, with "Conservatives as Defenders of the Media."

“The press -- often the target of allegations of liberal bias by conservative media -- has found an unlikely ally in right-leaning radio and television hosts who have taken to defending the First Amendment with a fire-and-brimstone zeal,” she wrote.

Chozick started with the zeal of Glenn Beck, and later turned to Michael Harrison of Talkers Magazine – who made what may be the obvious point: freedom of speech is a constant theme at annual talk-radio conventions. Our former MRC colleague Seton Motley put it just right: ''I would argue conservatives are the ones that routinely defend all the amendments in the Constitution, the First, the Second, the Fourth. ...''

Earlier in the story, Motley was debated in print by Michael Smerconish:

Critics and supporters have noticed the emergence of Fox News, known for its battle cries of liberal bias in other news outlets, as one of the most vocal defenders of those news outlets' rights.

''I love the juxtaposition of the media being defended by the people they don't typically like, which is conservatives,'' said Seton Motley, president of Less Government, an organization devoted to diminishing the role of the federal government.

Michael Smerconish, an independent who hosts a talk radio program on Sirius XM and contributes to MSNBC, said conservatives' outrage over the Obama administration's leak investigations has everything to do with politics.

''Given a choice of who gets thrown under the bus -- Obama or the liberal media -- Obama is first on the list,'' Mr. Smerconish said. He added, ''The liberal media would be a close second.''

Mr. Smerconish and other critics point out that many of the same right-leaning hosts condemning the Obama administration sided with, for example, the Bush administration's surveillance program under the Patriot Act, the expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the government's actions in the case related to former C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame.

Ann Coulter, a conservative pundit, said on Fox News recently that Dana Priest, a Washington Post reporter who in 2005 wrote an article about the C.I.A.'s holding terror suspects in secret prisons, ''won the Pulitzer Prize for putting America at risk.'' (Ms. Coulter added that Mr. Rosen had been made a target because of the Obama administration's animosity toward Fox News, and not because his article put America at risk.)

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