The pursuit of political diversity that would give conservatives a greater voice in America’s newsrooms is not the right path to better journalism, liberal commentator Thomas Frank argued in The Wall Street Journal yesterday.
Frank penned a column on the subject in response to Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander repeatedly lamenting his newspaper’s failures to embrace news broken on the right side of the political spectrum. But Frank said blaming the Post’s failures on the reality that too few conservatives work in journalism is a dodge.
“[T]his way no one is really to blame for botched coverage of any sort, least of all newspaper brass. Their intentions are pure, just poorly executed by their annoyingly conformist info-proles,” he wrote.
Frank then raised other objections to the idea:
Anyone setting out to appease bias-spotters on the right should know that the conservative movement feels that it is plagued by impostors and fakers, and it won’t be satisfied until these [Republican In Name Only], too, are chased from the newsrooms of the nation.
Then, once all that is taken into account, there’s the damnable problem of the bias-spotting left, like the Media Matters for America organization, which has documented the conservative tilt of the press in voluminous detail. How to deal with this? By ignoring it? Isn’t that an act of bias on its own?
Besides, there’s the mechanics of the job. How is the Post supposed to check up on its reporters’ politics? I’m hoping for loyalty oaths and televised hearings, with stiff penalties for employees who refuse to talk or to name names: It would be the perfect spectacle for the end of the newspaper era.
Craziest of all, though, is the prospect of the Post ditching its decades-long pursuit of the grail of objectivity . . . because it got scooped on the Acorn story. If that is all it takes to reduce The Washington Post’s vaunted editorial philosophy to ashes, what is the newspaper industry planning to do to atone for its far more consequential failures
Liberal excuses, one and all. The left wants to maintain its dominance of the establishment media because journalists who see the world the way they do, and report on it from that perspective, are essential to the future of liberalism.
Frank argues that “ever more catastrophic failures [in coverage] await” if liberals are forced to share their media power with conservatives because he sees any news uncovered by investigators on the right as “catastrophic failures.”
But he’s wrong. The Post and all other national news organizations can benefit from welcoming hard-nosed conservative reporters into their fold, and they would do well to look for some.