national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]

















J.F. Kelly, Jr. - Contributor

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

Bias in the Media

Agenda journalism and "objective" reporting...
[J. F. Kelly, Jr.] 7/6/04

Joseph Perkins, The San Diego Union-Tribune’s conservative, nationally syndicated columnist, recently wrote that journalists should come out of the closet and reveal their political biases. Not that these biases aren’t already evident to many readers, he feels, nevertheless, that they should come right out and admit to them as Don Hewitt, executive producer of “60 Minutes” has done.

Mr. Hewitt admitted his partiality to John Kerry. Gee, what a surprise. The popular TV show is billed by CBS as a television news magazine, which implies that it is non-partisan. “60 minutes” non-partisan? Please!

The reality, said Mr. Perkins, is that most major news organizations are guilty of the same thing. They feign objectivity but most of those who select, edit, format and present the news are democrats and liberals. He offers as evidence a 1996 Roper survey of 139 Washington correspondents, 89% of whom said they voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 as opposed to only 7% who said they voted for George H. W. Bush. 61% acknowledged being liberal or liberal to moderate while less than one-tenth described themselves as republican or moderate to republican. Half of the respondents admitted outright to being democrats while only 4% said they were republicans.

American newspapers, news magazines and radio stations claim that their staffs reflect diversity. This may be true in terms of race and gender but certainly not with regard to political orientation and affiliation. With as many as 90% leaning to the left of the political spectrum, would you expect bias to creep into their reporting or do you believe they put aside their personal political preferences and achieve objectivity? If you believe the latter, than you also believe that the fox can be depended upon to do a good job in guarding the henhouse.

These statistics coincide remarkably with the results of similar surveys of American university faculties, which found entire academic departments to be virtually free of republican or conservative contamination. An overwhelming majority of faculty members identify themselves as liberal, democrats or Greens. Conservative organizations and student publications on college campuses are almost as rare as ROTC units and those that survive are under constant attack from the campus liberals and guardians of political correctness. I contend there is a direct connection between the liberal orientation on campus and in the media.

Young journalism majors aspiring to careers in that profession undergo the same liberal socialization in college as do most of the rest of the undergraduates. Not all of them, of course, but most carry their liberal orientation with them into their new careers. It should come as no surprise that they now populate the newsrooms and even the editorial departments of even nominally conservative newspapers and television stations. The publisher’s conservative views may be reflected in the editorials, but reporters, headline writers and columnists have become predominantly liberal. They can’t help it. They were taught these values in college. Some grow out of it as the real world intrudes on their idealism but most don’t, as the surveys clearly indicate.

How did liberals gain control of the campuses and the media? After WW II, veterans flocking to universities on the GI Bill, together with a swelling population caused tremendous growth in campus populations. Always fertile breeding grounds for new and frequently radical ideas, faculties and student bodies produced large numbers of protestors against the status quo and the establishment. The largely conservative, business oriented newspapers of the time were viewed as the voice of the establishment. The Vietnam conflict, an extremely unpopular war, became a cause on campuses and a reason to rebel against the establishment and authority. The image of the ugly American was nurtured by faculties and with it the tendency to blame America first for the troubles of the world.

How could we expect otherwise? University professors value original and critical thinking in their students. Students are taught to challenge assumptions and old ways of doing things. It’s convenient to turn that critical thinking toward the establishment and the status quo. There is, admittedly, plenty to criticize. Students who please their professors are generally rewarded by good grades. Duh!

Fifty years ago, journalism students were taught to keep opinion and subjectivity out of reporting. Opinion belonged on the opinion pages. News stories rarely carried by-lines. How things have changed. Today, the placement and editing of a news story, pictures and cartoons and the spin that the headline writer imparts can directly affect what the reader infers.

I agree with Mr. Perkins that journalists should reveal their political orientation out of fairness to the readers, many of whom, unfortunately, take as gospel what they hear on TV or read in the newspapers. I would add the view that college professors would better serve their students by being equally forthcoming. Students deserve these disclosures even more because, unlike readers and TV viewers, they usually constitute a captive audience. CRO

copyright 2004 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005