Carol Platt Liebau: Flailing at a Straw Man

Friday, April 13, 2007

Flailing at a Straw Man

EJ Dionne flails at a straw man this morning, arguing that Democrats have no "obligation" to participate in debates on Fox.

Well, of course they don't. No one has an "obligation" to appear in any particular media forum, although there's an argument to be made that Democrats are foreclosing an opportunity to reach a new audience by blacklisting Fox. No need to worry that Republicans are going to pull the same trick and refuse to appear on any left-leaning network; if they did, they'd have nowhere to go but Fox. It's the modern analogue to Anatole France's famous formulation that both the rich and the poor have the right to sleep under bridges . . .

What's ironic about Dionne's piece is that it represents the media mentality that actually spawned Fox's success. He's happy to assert that Fox News leans to the right -- but does it do so more than CBS (former home of Dan Rather), ABC, NBC, CNN and MSNBC lean right? That's a difficult claim to support. In fact, Fox's most popular shows include a fair representation of voices from both the left and the right -- unlike many of the networks, where people like David Gergen and Patrick Buchanan are deemed the in-house conservatives, at least in the relatively rare instances when the network actually goes in search of a non-liberal voice.

Dionne conveniently ignores the long and storied history of network liberal bias -- but the troubling thing is that, chances are, he doesn't even perceive the bias to exist. As Bernard Goldberg has pointed out, for most members of the media establishment, left-leaning organs like The New York Times or CBS just seem middle of the road . . .


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