Carol Platt Liebau: A Liberal "Gets" Media Bias (Kind Of)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Liberal "Gets" Media Bias (Kind Of)

Over at The Horse's Mouth, Greg Sargent is very, very upset about this pretty silly and ultimately unilluminating New York Times piece on Bill and Hillary Clinton, and their marriage.

Mr. Sargent writes that it:

tells us another very key fact about journalism today: political reporters love to write about politics as if they are merely disinterested observers of political events and the public's perceptions of them, when in fact they play a very key role in shaping those events and perceptions.

He's quite right (except for the "today" -- this has been going on since Watergate, at least); rarely has the problem been framed more articulately. Mr. Sargent's observation is exactly what conservatives have been arguing, literally, for years about the role of the MSM in covering politics. Gee, I wonder how so many people came to be so afraid in 1980 that Ronald Reagan was a trigger-happy fool, determined to see women and children starving in the street? Or how so many Americans got the idea that George HW Bush was out of touch, based on a false story about a grocery scanner? Or how so many Americans, a year after watching the hearings for themselves, changed their minds and decided that it was Clarence Thomas who had been lying?

Or that America is losing the war in Iraq? Americans, both inside and outside the Bush Administration, understand the nexus between press coverage and the events that take place on the ground during war. That's why so many have been outraged over the MSM's coverage (it's hardly, as the press would argue, that they're just the messenger of objectively bad news).

If Mr. Sargent is unhappy with the coverage of the Clintons, just remember that it could always be worse. Think of how that piece would read if the Times weren't politically sympathetic to the Clintons. And then, if you can't figure it out, check with Nancy Reagan: The front page NYT story on her marriage alleged that she was having an affair with Frank Sinatra. According to Brent Bozell, "The New York Times ran Kitty Kelley's stories of a Frank Sinatra-Nancy Reagan affair without asking Maureen Dowd to check any sources."

Mr. Sargent's observation highlights the fact that the notion of an "objective press" is a myth. Everyone -- left and right -- would be better served if the MSM woudl abandon the pretense, and get honest about their own political beliefs and predilections, so that the reading public can gauge the work product accordingly.


Blogger Niraj said...

I don't know what's worse: a 3,000-word article about the Clinton's marriage. Or the countless blog entries talking about this article.

2:29 PM  
Blogger COPioneer said...

Suppose, heaven forbid, that Shrillery did win the presidency in 2008. Would Bill be "First Gigolo", "First Hubby", "First Dude", or what? "First Gentleman" certainly isn't close.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Maj.BertramPudgeman said...

This could be an attempt by the NYT to "defuse" the issue ahead of the election cycle. It is a common strategy. Later on they can say we've done that, time to move along, nothing new here.

Bush was accused of doing this on the National Guard thing.

BTW - I'd hate to see Hillary in the white house, but I have to admit I miss the whole "President Buttafuoco" schtick. He provided a lot of laughs.

4:14 AM  
Blogger Luv2Box said...

It's totally prep work for the fall campaign! I'm sure we can look forward to a summer chock full of photos of the 'loving' couple....barf! How about actually doing your job - you know, researching and printing a story based on facts, not on how many readers/viewers you can get?

6:45 PM  
Blogger Lola said...

"Everyone -- left and right -- would be better served if the MSM would abandon the pretense, and get honest about their own political beliefs and predilections, so that the reading public can gauge the work product accordingly." I have been saying the same thing myself - we need to understand that the bias is out there and knowing this make our own decisions on the information presented. Today, finding an objective media piece is almost impossible. This has made me turn to the places like internet blogs for my news and I have a feeling other people will begin doing the same thing. Besides, who really wants to read pieces on Bill and Hillary Clinton - hasn't that been overplayed already?

3:50 PM  

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