Dana Milbank Misquoted Me, Claimed Anti-Christian Bias Allegations Are Stale

Washington Post reporter/columnist Dana Milbank was in the room yesterday when I spoke on a panel on anti-Christian media bias at Rev. Rick Scarborough's Vision America conference yesterday. (Tom DeLay was the lunch speaker, so we were a mere appetizer for the sharks.) Milbank misquoted me in his Wednesday column as saying "we're making some great inroads" in the national media. I did not say that. American Family Radio's Bill Fancher said that, about the White House press corps. I might object less to the misquote if I agreed with that sentiment.

Before that, Milbank said our examples of anti-Christian bias were old and stale. In my case, I noted a survey in the spring 2001 issue of The Public Interest that showed 97 percent of the national reporters surveyed supported a "woman's right to choose" abortion, 84 percent saying they believed in it strongly, and 73 percent agreed that homosexuality and heterosexuality are equally acceptable. He did not cite these enlightening survey numbers, merely the age of the journal they appeared in. (The survey's even older, from 1995.) There's a reason for that: as I explained to the crowd, national reporters have found it counterproductive to participate in surveys and acknowledge their political views. If Pew or Gallup could poll the press corps today on their ideological views, that would help us not sound so "stale," but I doubt Milbank would endorse that research effort.

Milbank ignored that Don Irvine of Accuracy in Media complained about the Academy Awards in the last two years avoiding honors for "The Passion of the Christ" and "The Chronicles of Narnia." That's not news-media bias, but God knows the news media hailed all the liberal and "transgressive" films that were nominated instead. Milbank’s stale-examples tactic also ignored our discussion of generic bias. I began my remarks by noting that if liberal reporters think the notion of a "war on Christians" is hyperbolic, it’s quite common for them to call our abortion debate the "abortion wars." I could have cited current examples.

On February 21, 2006, NBC’s Brian Williams began his story on partial-birth abortion before the Supreme Court: "The abortion wars. The new Supreme Court agrees to take the high-stakes question: Can the federal government outlaw late-term abortions?"

I did not really prepare my remarks yesterday to impress Dana Milbank or ABC's Jake Tapper (who was also there). I suppose I should have sad leading indicator of liberal-bias problems is that major national news outlets have picked up snarky and cynical liberal writers from The New Republic and Salon.com who spent the 2000 campaign cracking on Bush for President and writing books with titles like "Smashmouth" and "Down & Dirty."

UPDATE: My thanks to the Washington Post, for on Friday they issued a correction on my misquote:

· The March 29 Washington Sketch misattributed an assertion that Christian conservatives are "making some great inroads" in the media. It was made by Bill Fancher of American Family Radio, not Tim Graham of the Media Research Center.

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