The masthead editorial (no online link to provide, sorry) of the new issue of Columbia Journalism Review is titled: “Defining Bias Downward: Holding Political Power to Account Is Not Some Liberal Plot.”
The authors cite a Tim Graham article in which he pointed out how many anti-Bush stories surfaced throughout the year. CJR rightly defended the stories as legitimate:
When a Republican former treasury secretary publicly parts company with his president on economic policy, that’s a legitimate story fit for national discussion. Ditto for a book by a top antiterrorism expert who seriously argues that the administration is blowing the war on terror. Ditto for the need for some attention to the work of Woodward, a quality reoprter on the insider perspective (and whose book on the run-up to the war was carefully balanced.) An effort to map the young George Bush’s record in the Guard, unknown to this day? That’s legitimate too — if, of course, it’s done right…
All of these are excellent points. I agree that those stories were legitimate. But the editors of CJR are “stone blind to their own prejudices,” an accusation they fling at the late Reed Irvine, who dedicated his life to pointing out the liberal nature of much reporting.
What they didn’t address was the little criticism given to John Kerry regarding stories that could have garnered equally large headlines:
A United States presidential candidate lied in the Congressional Record about being in Cambodia. Here’s the story I found about it. Note the page number.
John Kerry, who ran on a campaign as a coalition builder who could work with other countries, lied about meeting foreign diplomats before the Iraq War. The Washington Times (a known conservative paper) covered the story, but no one else found it important.
NY Times detailed a lengthy account of the Swift Boat Veterans’ link to the Bush campaign. However, no one decided the numerous anti-Bush organization’s links to the Kerry campaign were worthy of similar scrutiny.
The list could go on and on.
Many journalists reading this list will dismiss these stories as relatively unimportant. That’s the point. Most conservatives don’t dismiss these issues. And most journalists aren’t conservative. Hence, the anti-Bush slant.
I called earlier for diversity in the newsroom. Until this problem is corrected, howls of media bias and the popularity of blogs will continue to rage. The fact that CJR is blind to the bias shows that they, too, are part of the problem.