My new “Think Again” column is called “Charles Murray and the Power of Mainstream Media Amnesia” and it’s here.
My new Nation column is called “Sheldon Adelson and the End of American Anti-Semitism” and it’s here.
And I did a Daily Beast column called “The Election Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” here.
Now here’s Reed:
Water Wet, Sky Blue, Far Right Sees Media Bias Everywhere
by Reed Richardson
On Tuesday, the folks over at the Pew Research Center put out another in a series of surveys examining how the public engages with the ongoing presidential campaign through the media. Its findings were, shall we say, not terribly surprising. Among the more unremarkable conclusions—cable news is increasingly popular and is now the top campaign news source and a growing number of Americans now say they detect a “great deal” of bias in political news coverage.
Dig down into the details of the survey, however, and you’ll find that fueling both of these trends is one specific segment of the political spectrum—Tea Party Republicans. As the study noted, Tea Party Republicans and Tea Party-sympathizing Independents are especially likely to rely on cable news for information. And of this segment, 53% say they get most of their news about the election from Fox News, compared with just 26% of other Republicans and Republican leaners.
When it comes to identifying supposed news bias, the same unmistakable trend appears. According to the study, nearly three out of four Tea Party Republicans—74%—claim to see a “great deal” of bias in the news, a figure that, once again, is roughly double that of other Republicans (33%). Even more striking, Independents (35%) as well as conservative Democrats (30%) and liberals (36%) all seem to share the non-Tea Party Republicans’ sentiments about the prevalence of media bias to roughly the same degree.
Now, my one rather large glaring problem with this Pew study is its failure to, in any way, define what form this “bias” takes in the press. No doubt the Tea Partiers watching Fox News would define this slant along partisan lines. However, for years I have argued that the establishment media suffers from a kind of systemic, institutional bias, one that prizes access over accuracy and displays an overweening deference to power and authority rather than any subconscious fealty to a specific ideology.
As a perfect example of this, consider this Politico op-ed from Tuesday that rails against the Obama administration’s recent decision to mandate federal contraception coverage in most employer health plans. Written by one David Addington, the Heritage Foundation’s “vice president of Domestic and Economic Policy,” the column throws out a lot of overheated hyperbole about how the HHS’s decision runs afoul of the Constitution on First Amendment, Freedom of Religion grounds. (Those vocal opponents within the Catholic Church who are supposedly bemoaning their loss of “religious liberty” pretty much give the game away here, however.)