Essay: The Jurassic Press Finally Acknowledge Bias

March 5th, 2008 4:04 PM

Unfortunately, it is not what you think | Media Research Center
Sorely Displeased
It seems it all depends on who is doing the asking.

ABC News spent a good portion of last week's morning programming in deep prostration and self-analysis in response to criticism that their journalistic presentation suffered from partiality.

Could it be? Had we at the Media Research Center (MRC) -- after twenty-one years of protracted press analysis and serial and sober exposition of liberal bias in all manner of broadcast and print reporting -- finally saturated the consciousness of a member of the Network Big Three?

Sadly, no.

The woman who founded Media Matters for America to expose and criticize conservative predisposition in all things journalism had apparently come to find her creation wanting, and so went herself to the ramparts crying foul.

What instead led to last week's reflexive response and profound navel-gazing was a complaint from Democratic Senator and Presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton -- co-recipient of one of the greatest ongoing media cover-ups of all time -- that the media was biased against her, in favor of her primary opponent Barack Obama.

The woman who founded Media Matters for America to expose and criticize conservative predisposition in all things journalism had apparently come to find her creation wanting, and so went herself to the ramparts crying foul. Amongst her charges were issues as deeply important to the Presidential process as her having to repeatedly answer first the questions put before her and Obama in their debates.

ABC -- who for decades has dismissively laughed off charges of bias when leveled by those on the Right -- simply could not let Clinton's accusation stand unanalyzed, so on two separate days Good Morning America (GMA) dug right in to get to its bottom.

The apparent last straw for GMA -- the one that necessitated this hard look within -- was a Saturday Night Live skit -- cited also by Clinton -- during which faux reporters effuse all over the pretend Barack Obama's shoes. GMA prefaced what should have been entitled "Are We Choosing Amongst Liberals? - Day One" with a replay of said parody.

Clearly, we here at the MRC have been going about this all wrong, what with our in-depth studies and our concrete documentation of numbers and trends in media coverage. To be taken seriously, we should have instead been silly.

ABC immediately left silly and careened into absurd with its roster of "experts" called upon to examine their coverage for internecine Donkey bias. It was a laundry list of Liberals, led by former Bill and Hillary staffer George Stephanopoulos.

On Wednesday, we had the former Clinton flunky offer "I do think, though, Senator Clinton has a point. She's being treated like the front-runner, even though she's... the underdog in this race right now."

The media, of course, should not treat the front-runner any differently than any other candidate. But that ship sailed so long ago, it is now but a dot on the high sea horizon - especially in a year of coverage so overly focused on the horse race itself to the detriment of the examination of the issues.

Day Two brought us the Liberal Analyst Panel. Made up of Arianna Huffington, of her Leftist Post, "non-partisan" Project for Excellence in Journalism director Tom Rosenstiel -- formerly of Conservative bastions Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times - and ABC media and culture correspondent Chris Connelly. Interspersed with their live testimonials were readings on the subject from New York Times Uber-Liberal Paul Krugman.

GMA co-hostess Diane Sawyer teased the festivities with "Have all of us in the media used boxing gloves on Clinton and kid gloves on Obama? Have we been unfair?" Compatriot Robin Roberts teased further, "The media. Too tough on Clinton? Not tough enough on Obama? We'll take up that debate."

Diving in, Sawyer said "Is it possible that what (Clinton) says is true?" Connelly then unblinkingly unleashed a series of bias whoppers.

"It's been suggested that Obama appeals to the media's eternal thirst for the new and the now, while Clinton has been pored over for some 16 years."

Really? Here I was thinking the media should be thirsting for not the new, but the newS. And there are libraries of books written about what the media have not written about the Clintons and their merely passing fancy with legality and ethics. Passed over - not pored over - is more like it.

And then from Connelly, "Ironically, during Bill Clinton's 1992 run, some felt the press used contrasting words and images to favor him over President Bush."

Ironic indeed. Mostly so is the fact that they are willing if not eager to explore in-depth over two days the concept that they might be choosing sides in a Democrat primary - and landing next to the more Leftist of the two - yet they haughtily and hastily dismiss out of hand any notion that they might be, well liberal.

Cognitive dissonance is the psychological state that describes the uncomfortable feeling between what one holds to be true and what one knows to be true. This two day GMA bit of self-analytic inanity is certainly a glittering example thereof.

Perhaps it is after all not bias for which the Jurassic Press should be seeking professional help.