Accuracy in Media

So said conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer when he accepted the 2009 Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism yesterday.

Krauthammer said Fox “has done a great service to the American polity” by shattering the liberal media’s dominance of the broadcast world. “The reason Fox News has thrived and grown,” he said, “is because it offers a vibrant and honest alternative to those who could not abide yet another day of the news delivered to them beneath layer after layer of often undisguised liberalism.”

This excerpt from Krauthammer’s speech is particularly telling:

A few years ago, I was on a radio show with a well-known political reporter who lamented the loss of a pristine past in which the whole country could agree on what the facts were, even if they disagreed on how to interpret and act upon them. All that was gone now. The country had become so fractured we couldn’t even agree on what reality was. What she meant was that the day in which the front page of The New York Times was given scriptural authority everywhere was gone, shattered by the rise of Fox News.

What left me slack-jawed was the fact that she, like the cohort of mainstream journalists she represented so perfectly, was so ideologically blinkered that she could not fathom the plain fact that the liberal media were presenting the news and the world through a particular lens. The idea that it was particular, and that there might be competing ones, perhaps even superior ones, was beyond her ken.

It’s on par with the anecdote I recounted a few weeks ago about a former colleague who naively argued that President Obama has been subjected to far more hateful speech on conservative talk radio than any unhinged lefty attacks directed at President Bush. He recoiled when I suggested that he broaden his reading horizons to include writers like Krauthammer, who coined the phrase “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

Although that journalist works for an inside-the-Beltway publication rightfully lauded for its objective reporting, he definitely falls into the category of people who are so “ideologically blinkered” that they can’t imagine journalists are capable, whether by ignorance or intent, of distorting reality because they see the world through a liberal lens.

Until he and others in the media awaken to the reality that journalists are flawed human beings susceptible to internal biases, outlets like The New York Times, CNN and CBS will continue their decline as Fox News lures readers and viewers who have become wise to the liberal media’s ways.

UPDATE: Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia (where I worked as an intern in 1989) compiled a handy, albeit short, list of liberal media bias over the years that helps explain the public’s shift toward Fox News. His examples of pre-Fox bias included:

  • Praising Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev but trashing President Reagan;
  • Driving Republican Sen. Bob Packwood from office for sexual harassment while excusing President Clinton’s recurring instances of the same transgression;
  • And blowing the 1991 economic downturn out of proportion;

Go to Surber’s blog for the rest of the list — and bookmark his site while you’re there. He’s one of my must-reads and should be for you, too.




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