Thursday, May 08, 2008

Must be a right-wing conspiracy! 

Back when I used to waste time spinning my wheels in the grimy dirt and poop mixture that is political blogging, one of my biggest bugaboos was media "criticism" by those with little expertise in the field, and even less interest in a serious discussion of the subject. In order to be a typical conservative blogger, one must pledge allegiance to a 40-year-old playbook that contains, as a central tenet, the outmoded and wrong-headed idea that the dominant bias in the media is one of political ideology.

I could probably pen a small volume on the subject, as I'm sure I've said before. But today I'll just focus on one example: features like this one at the Colossus of Rhodey.

The well-worn refrain here is that reporters are biased because they label Republicans/conservatives, but don't label Democrats/liberals.

The problem with the above example being "bias"? Well, one of the Republicans wasn't labeled. Three of the seven Democrats were labeled when the post was written! (What sort of shoddy attempt at bias is that?). And the other four...um... are also labeled. I'm assuming that this was done during an edit shortly after publication. Now, such editing would no doubt be attributed to backtracking by those nefarious, calculating MSNBC types whose master plan was exposed. (After all, what other explanation could there be? Clearly the explosion of online news hasn't led to any widespread sloppiness, with stories being published before they're ready, and edited without any notification to the reader! Perish the thought).

But the more significant point is that for every tit, there's a boob. I mean, a tat. A dedicated, lockstep lefty blogosphere could, if it bothered, counter these ridiculous anecdotal instances of "bias" with plenty of their own. If you look for them, you'll see them quite regularly.

Say, whaddya know! Here's one from today, in which the Associated Press fails to tell us which party can claim ownership of the esteemed Rep. Vito Fossella (Hey, wasn't he the gay hit man on the Sopranos?).

Must be a conservative media conspiracy, eh?

Here's another instance in which, if the ideologies were reversed, we could hear a cry of bias: This MSNBC article refers to Supreme Court Justices Alito and Roberts as "appointed by President Bush"; Anthony Kennedy as "a key justice"; and the remaining four justices as liberals. Gasp!

On my list of biases that seriously impact media coverage, actual political bias by reporters -- regardless of their leanings -- would be, I don't know, seventh on the list? And it would be one hell of a distant seventh. As it would be for most folks who aren't just playing the tired partisan blogging game.

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