Me­dia bias back­lash

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

It seems that a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers per­ceive the me­dia is slanted in fa­vor of Barack Obama and the Demo­cratic Party. As a re­sult, we are in the midst of a voter back­lash against the me­dia. The is­sue has come to the fore over the se­lec­tion of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain’s run­ning mate. In a Ras­mussen poll pub­lished Sept. 4, 51 per­cent of re­spon­dents said that re­porters are try­ing to dam­age Mrs. Palin’s rep­u­ta­tion with their news cov­er­age. Twenty-four per­cent said that neg­a­tive sto­ries about Mrs. Palin made them more likely to vote for John McCain in Novem­ber.

Us Weekly mag­a­zine came un­der scru­tiny for their lat­est cover story “Ba­bies, Lies and Scan­dal,” as crit­ics ar­gue it is a gross mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Mrs. Palin. This, in con­trast to a June 17 cover story head­lined “Michelle Obama: Why Barack Loves Her.” Even Oprah Win­frey has been ac­cused of bias for not in­ter­view­ing Mrs. Palin on her show, even though she has had Mr. Obama on as a guest — prior to his of­fi­cial cam­paign for the pres­i­dency — in 2005 and 2006. Mrs. Win­frey has also cam­paigned for Mr. Obama.

The na­tional news net­works have also come un­der fire re­peat­edly for bi­ased re­port­ing with a lib­eral slant. In June, the for­mer an­chor and manag­ing ed­i­tor of NBC Nightly News Tom Brokaw chas­tised the press for in­sist­ing that Hil­lary Clin­ton exit from the Demo­cratic pri­mary. He re- ferred to the news cov­er­age as “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” and “com­men­tary dis­guised as re­port­ing.” At a panel in Den­ver, spon­sored by the Joan Shoren­stein Cen­ter on Press, Pol­i­tics, and Pub­lic Pol­icy, Mr. Brokaw said that MSNBC hosts Chris Matthews and Keith Ol­ber­mann demon­strated bias in their elec­tion re­port­ing: “I think Keith has gone too far. I think Chris has gone too far.”

MSNBC net­work ex­ec­u­tives at last re­sponded to the drum­beat of crit­i­cism they have re­ceived. Last week, the net­work an­nounced that Messrs. Ol­ber­mann and Matthews will no longer be co-an­chors of po­lit­i­cal-night cov­er­age; they will be re­placed by NBC News cor­re­spon­dent David Gre­gory. Messrs. Ol­ber­mann and Matthews will re­main com­men­ta­tors.

The McCain cam­paign has long crit­i­cized me­dia bias. In June, a New York Times re­port al­leg­ing Mr. McCain’s ties with lob­by­ists was de­nounced as a hit piece. There was also out­rage among McCain sup­port­ers when the New York Times pub­lished a July 14 op-ed on Iraq writ­ten by Mr. Obama but dis­qual­i­fied Mr. McCain’s op-ed for fail­ing to meet its stan­dards. The pub­lic was not amused.

One up­shot to all this is that many Amer­i­cans are turn­ing to “new me­dia” — the In­ter­net — for more in­for­ma­tion without the bias. Once the sub­ject of de­bate and in­quiry: Does lib­eral me­dia bias re­ally ex­ist? It is now rec­og­nized by a ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans as an es­tab­lished fact.

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