Monday, November 17, 2008

Oy Vey: Liberals Dominate Media Because They Want to "Change the World," Says WaPo Ombudsman

Well, bless her heart (that's southern for "wtf?"). By "her," I mean Deborah Howell, the Ombudsman for the Washington Post. After the presidential election, Howell released a study confirming the complaints of many readers who asserted that the Washington Post's election coverage favored Obama. Apparently, the newspaper wants to reassure its angry readers, because Howell has released yet another article on the subject of media bias.

Howell reports that customer dissatisfaction with the Washington Post has caused 900 people to cancel their subscriptions in the last 4 weeks (web traffic may have declined even more significantly, but Powell does not mention this). Howell also reiterates her prior conclusion that the newspaper has exhibited a "liberal bias." But Howell has an interesting explanation for this bias. Liberals (as opposed to conservatives) flock to media because of their commitment to social change. According to Howell: "Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world." Oy vey!

My (indignant) take:

Neither Liberals nor Conservatives Really Want Meaningful Change
Liberals do not want to "change" the world. Instead, they want to supplant conservatives in leadership positions and pass superficial and symbolic policies that look like "change" to people who cannot imagine more substantial reform. Progressives and the extreme rightwing are the true proponents of change -- even if their polar-opposite ideas are not rooted in pragmatism. Extreme leftist and rightwing agendas will not succeed because society's powerbrokers will not endorse them.

Liberals and conservatives are just on opposite sides of a vast middle conspiracy. They occupy the center-left and the center-right, and every four years they compete for power first by appealing to the extremes in their respective parties during the primaries and then running squarely to the center in the national election.

I do not see much in this election cycle that deviates from this script. Obama is picking up people daily from the Clinton administration -- and is seriously considering Hillary Clinton herself for a Cabinet position. That just does not strike me as some monumental "change" in society. It might represent a departure from Bush, but it is not a change from politics viewed with an historical lens. So far, the Obama administration looks a lot like the 1990s.

Liberals Can Present All Sides -- If They Try
Second, Howell's arguments imply that liberals cannot present all sides of an issue. I am a self-identified progressive, but I have tried to criticize liberals, conservatives, and progressives on this blog. Consequently, rightwingers, leftists, and moderates have favorably cited my arguments. In the few months that I have operated this blog, I have criticized both blacks and gays over Proposition 8. I have criticized the way McCain ran his campaign, but have also acknowledged that the media gave him a raw deal. I have embraced leftwing positions but have refused to demonize conservatives and uncritically accept liberals. Similarly, liberal journalists could explore all sides if they chose to do so. Apparently, they have not.

Journalists Are Not Principled Liberals, But Are Professionals Who Use Their Influence to Gain Access to Power and Popularity
Finally, I doubt that many journalists are actually principled liberal. Instead, they are professionals (likely moderates) who cling to popular candidates and court individuals whom they believe will give them the most access to power. For example, just four years ago, the media stood by while the rightwing bashed Kerry, and four years prior to that, they helped conservatives construct a narrative that Gore was a pathological liar (or at least a gaffe machine). They also helped Republicans in their effort to slam Bill Clinton. In 2004 they concocted the "Dean Scream" because they preferred Kerry to Dean and saw the former as having a better chance to win and (thus) gain power. They preferred Reagan to Carter and Mondale, and they were literally "embedded" in the tanks during the Iraq War -- until public opinion turned on Bush and the war. This is not the behavior of a liberal media -- but rather the actions of a power-hungry profession that wants to consolidate and preserve its own power and influence. As a lawyer, I am pretty familiar with this drive.

Howell's explanation for the media's failure to report objectively is better than others I have heard recently. Two reporters for Politico.Com, for example, conceded that the election coverage has favored Obama, but blamed McCain for this!

Related Articles on Dissenting Justice:

2 Politico.Com Reporters Concede Media Biased, Blame McCain

ABC News Takes on Issue of Media Bias and Concludes: It Exists

Poll: 55% of Voters Believe Media More Biased Than in Past Elections

Washington Post Proclaims That "Sarah Palin Picks Ferraro as Favorite Vice President." Shocking -- Yes. Truthful -- No.

CNN and CBS Release Highly Misleading Polls Regarding VP Debate

New York Times to Hillary Clinton: "Call Off the Dogs"

Another Study Proves That 1+1=2, Or That the Media Love Obama, Hate McCain/Palin, and Who's Biden?

Ombudsman Concludes that the Washington Post Was In the Tank!


Lynn E said...

You are right about liberals wanting to "change the world". I want to change some things but over all life is pretty good and drastic change usually doesn't do anyone any good unless it is change in material wealth and there is a strong stable government. The American Revolution took because it was headed by landed gentry who had already developed leadership skills and an ability to study and learn more information. Franklin was a scientist of renown, Washington conducted many experiments on his plantation in rotating crops and rehabilitating the soil and inventing a new plow, etc. The French Revolution didn't take because the people who conducted it had not developed leadership skills and had fostered great hatred over many years resulting in revenge. An absolute monarchy wasn't a great training ground where the independence living in the American Colonies fostered leadership.
I am a liberal democrat who didn't support Barack Obama because I don't see him as a liberal democrat but a Socialist. He has followed Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals to a tee including flattering the middle class etc. I don't want my government to drastically change and I prefer free market systems because it increases prosperity for all. It also promotes free speech and freedoms that we shouldn't take lightly.
This campaign has promoted a candidate that "everyone" was supposed to love, not loving him was considered racist and to reject the candidate was considered stupid. I have experienced people in my own life who reject me for not voting for the "obvious" candidate and refuse to acknowledge any difference of opinion. Most of them if not all of them seemed to have few reasons beyond the person being a Democrat and cool as their reason for voting for the person. It has been a incredible year but I don't think a great one for the US. There seems to be a lack of debate in the media and in public discourse, I fear it will get worse before it ever gets better.

Alessandro Machi said...

If 900 people canceled their subscriptions, how come they did not become PUMA's?

Real Time Analytics