Accuracy in Media

Thomas Edsall, who served for many years as the top political journalist for the Washington Post, has told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show that Democrats outnumber Republicans in the national press corps by a margin of anywhere from 15 or 25 to 1. That is important personal testimony and evidence from someone who toiled in the mainstream media. Meanwhile, a new survey confirms that liberals and Democrats do dominate the major media, but the numbers are not as large as those provided by Edsall, perhaps because some of those surveyed are reluctant to tell us the brutal and honest truth.

The website of the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) reports the findings from a new book, “The American Journalist in the 21st Century: US News People at the Dawn of a New Millennium.” Its survey finds that 40 percent of journalists described themselves as being on the left side of the political spectrum and conservatives were only 25 percent. Moderates made up 33 percent.

In terms of political party affiliation, 36 percent of journalists said they were Democrats but only 18 percent were Republicans.

These percentages are not as dramatic as those provided by Edsall. The difference could be explained by reluctance by some in the media to openly admit their preferences in a survey. On the other hand, Edsall is citing figures based on his social interaction with fellow journalists. He knows them, up close and personal.

Viewed in context, citing Gallup poll data on the ideological make-up of the public, the article on the PEJ website says that 40 percent of the journalists are liberal but only 17 percent of the public is. While 41 percent of the public is conservative, only 25 percent of the journalists are. That means there is a tremendous gulf in terms of the political views of journalists and the public.

That also means that conservatives and Republicans are being shortchanged in terms of their representation in the media. But don’t look for any affirmative action program to make up the difference. Our media, you see, are interested in hiring liberal journalists representing different sexual orientations or ethnic backgrounds, but philosophical diversity is something that is off the table.

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