this is an article that appeared in the Daily News in New York Today. It is copied from a blog that it was posted on.
Crisis in the Mainstream
John Leo of U.S. News writes today of the looming crisis facing the mainstream media, and he hits the nail squarely on the head. He begins by discussing the recent Newsweek revelations, but then quickly gets into a broader discussion of media bias, and concludes:
Not long ago, memorable comments about press credibility came from two stars at Newsweek: Evan Thomas and Howard Fineman. During the presidential campaign, Thomas said on TV that the news media wanted John Kerry to win. We knew that, but the candor was refreshing. Fineman said during the flap over Dan Rather and CBS's use of forged documents on the George Bush-National Guard story: "A political party is dying before our eyes--and I don't mean the Democrats. I'm talking about the 'mainstream media' . . . . It's hard to know now who, if anyone, in the 'media' has any credibility." It's worth mentioning here that the unrepentant Rather and his colleague Mary Mapes, who was fired for her role in presenting the forged documents, received a major industry award last week, a Peabody, as well as "extended applause" from the journalists in the crowd. (What's next? A lifetime achievement award for New York Times prevaricator Jayson Blair?)
Instead of trampling Newsweek --the magazine made a mistake and corrected it quickly and honestly--the focus ought to be on whether the news media are predisposed to make certain kinds of mistakes and, if so, what to do about it. The disdain that so many reporters have for the military (or for police, the FBI, conservative Christians, or right-to-lifers) frames the way that errors and bogus stories tend to occur. The antimilitary mentality makes atrocity stories easier to publish, even when they are untrue.
The classic example is CNN's false 1998 story that the U.S. military knowingly dropped nerve gas on Americans during the Vietnam War. On the other hand, brutal treatment of dissenters by Fidel Castro tends to be softened or omitted in the American press because so many journalists still see him as the romanticized figure from their youth in the 1960s.
Another example: It's possible to read newspapers and newsmagazines carefully and never see anything about the liberal indoctrination now taking place at major universities. This has something to do with the fact that the universities are mostly institutions of the left and that newsrooms tend to hire from the left and from the universities in question.
I once complained to an important news executive that he ignored certain kinds of stories. He said that he would like to do them but that his staff wouldn't let him. He admitted his staff had been assembled from one side--guess which?--of the political spectrum. This conversation hardened my conviction that the biggest flaw in mainstream journalism today is the lack of diversity. Much bean-counting goes on in regard to gender and race, but the new hires tend to come from the same economic bracket and the same pool of elite universities, and they tend to have the same take on politics and culture. Much of what they turn out is very good. But when they omit or mess up stories, run badly skewed polls, or publish front-page editorials posing as news stories, nobody seems to notice because groupthink is so strong.
Time is running out on the newsroom monoculture. The public has many options now--as well as plenty of media watchdogs, both professional and amateur. So the press takes its lumps and loses readers.
Is every he says true ? Is there an inherent bias in the media to the left?