No, really, there’s media bias, argues the Toledo Blade’s Marilou Johanek:
And speaking of the political phenom that is Mr. Obama, am I the only one bothered by the obvious media bias toward his candidacy? It’s as if those who are supposed to be scrutinizing and questioning the substance of a candidate and campaign don’t want to get in his way.
The media climbs all over Mrs. Clinton, analyzing her every move and motive, and those of her husband, but, at least for now, her opponent in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has largely escaped similar close inspection.
Even Tuesday night, flipping across the channels covering the primary results, there was much media effusing about how things were looking up for the Obama campaign and how the candidate was enjoying admirable trends in primary voting and how he was appealing to voters across the board, and so on.
It’s almost as if the collective media were rooting for him to become the next Democratic standard bearer even while dutifully acknowledging the significant wins Senator Clinton was scoring in eight states, not the least of which were California and New York.
But if I were a Toledo columnist on the hunt for bias, I might take a closer look at the pages of, say, the Toledo Blade. It took me less than a minute to find a good example, a Washington-datelined writeup of the most recent State of the Union address:
One proposal would devote $300 million to new grants for low-income children to attend religious schools.
Yes, yes, that crazy ol’ biblioplangist Bush and his sops to the fundamentalist boobs. Except … that $300 million isn’t “for low-income children to attend religious schools,” it’s for low-income parents to send their children to the school of their choice–religious, secular, whatever. The (sort of odiously named) Pell Grants for Kids program offers financial subsidies that, like collegiate Pell grants, are not subjected to a rigorous secularism examination by the proctologist-gloved inquisitors of the ACLU. Just as you can take your Pell grant to the University of Texas or to Georgetown, you can take these grants to Pacific Ridge School, St. Margaret’s, or Akiba Hebrew.
But of course that doesn’t fit very well with the bland know-nothing liberalism that dominates dying newspapers such as the Toledo Blade, so a grant that is usable at any legitimate school becomes $300 million for religious schools. That’s not only biased–it’s false. And a hundred false reports just like it appear in America’s newspapers every day.
This story probably isn’t a Blade original–it appears to be a Washington Post story written by Michael Abramowitz and Dan Eggen, but the Blade’s website, in an incredibly unhelpful and ethically questionable arrangement, does not identify the source of the copy–regardless, the Blade’s editors clearly did not challenge the assertion, even though at least some of them must have just watched the speech. That’s the sort of thing that made it so easy for The New Republic to get snookered by those phoney tails of drug-fueled hijinx among college conservatives–facts that fit into the editors’ calcified and frequently misinformed worldview are not challenged.
The real damage isn’t that newspapers and electronic media favor a particular candidate–politicians come and go–but that they favor a particular set of ideas, namely big-government progressivism, which then becomes the default position for every discussion of every public problem. (The essence of this wrongheaded philosophy was succinctly summed up by someone who once said: “When somebody hurts, government has to move.”) And, since most newspapers don’t have Washington bureaus, let alone foreign correspondents, most newspaper readers, even in relatively conservative areas, are utterly dependent upon a very small number of left-leaning outlets for the bulk of their national and international news–the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the major networks, and a few other players own the conversation. Whether you’re reading the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal or the Toledo Blade, there’s an excellent chance you’re getting the same biased news, written by the same people, transmitting the same falsehoods.