The Long History of Media Bias
It has taken its toll on journalistic credibility.


Conrad Black


After I watched a debate between Eliot Spitzer and Brent Bozell about whether Spitzer is a biased commentator, on his CNN program this week, I was starkly reminded of how insufferable a public personality Spitzer is, and also of how routine and brazen in their partisanship and unevenness the liberal media are. Spitzer and Bozell discussed three separate allegations that Bozell had made in his publication against Spitzer, and the former governor admitted that he was a liberal, but claimed that this did not lead to biased coverage if people of other views managed to hold their own with him in discussion (as Bozell did). Of course, this is nonsense, because the choice of subjects is Spitzer’s, most of his guests agree with him, and a good part of the program is a commentary monologue by him that is never anything but a diatribe in favor of the left-liberal line that made him so profoundly unpopular a governor even before the incident that led to his resignation.


It fell to his co-host, an animated blonde lady, to make the point, amid vigorous arm-waving, that of course Spitzer was biased, as were most people, though not as evidently as he is. By complete accident, I have seen this program a number of times in the last few weeks, and it is always the same: Eliot Spitzer is a loud, fast-talking, overbearing know-it-all, who has rehearsed his arguments and unleashes himself on guests, or directly at the camera, in a torrent of imperious blowhardism. He is even more irritating than Bill O’Reilly, because he is just as strident and ear-splitting, but more sinister. He has more than a desire to win an argument, like O’Reilly has; Spitzer has a will to dominate, to bulldoze his interlocutor. O’Reilly is opinionated, but Spitzer is belligerent. I normally move to the classical-music channel after a few minutes of either of them. But this self-adjudicated moot court Spitzer conducted about his own fairness and balance put me in mind of other recent outrages of liberal-media partisanship.


The left-wing media played up the showdown in Wisconsin over the governor’s reining in of the public-service unions with even greater ardor than the media of the Right, most of them associated with News Corp. As long as the betting was that the issue would be decided by the election of a pro-union judge, the Left touted the escalating battle as if it were a domestic Cuban Missile Crisis. When the liberal judge claimed victory by 200 votes, this was widely portrayed as the most heartwarming election since John F. Kennedy supposedly defeated Richard Nixon (with, as he put it himself, the help of “a few honest crooks”). When it emerged that a whole, largely Republican town had not been counted, and that in fact the more conservative candidate won safely enough, the story died. Only the most determined and meticulous scourers of the liberal media could find the dénouement, which was the principal reason I surmised that the conservative candidate had won after all.