New York Times media reporter David Carr's Monday column, "Tired Cries of Bias Don't Help Romney," challenged the "tired cries" from conservatives, including MRC president Brent Bozell, alleging liberal media bias, but was itself filled with tired and unconvincing arguments. Carr didn't precisely defend his colleagues from the charge of bias, instead focusing on the outposts of conservatism like talk radio and even social networks (presumably including Facebook) to suggest there's no "partisan conspiracy" afoot. Who said there was? As Bernard Goldberg famously wrote of liberal bias, "It comes naturally to most reporters."
In the last few days, conservatives have become agitated about Mitt Romney’s drop-off in the polls. So did they think the stumble was because of the ill-fated “47 percent” slip of the lip, or the hasty effort to gain a political edge after the death of an American ambassador in Libya, or more problematically, a campaign that can’t seem to stop pratfalling no matter what the news?
No, in their view, the mysterious drop can only be explained by the fact that the mainstream media have their collective liberal thumb on the scale, in terms of coverage and, more oddly, polling.
And ostensibly tendentious coverage was cited last Wednesday in a letter addressed to the “Biased News Media” and sponsored by the Media Research Center, which defines its mission as “holding the liberal media accountable for shamelessly advancing a left-wing agenda.” The letter said in part: “This election year, so much of the broadcast networks, their cable counterparts and the major establishment print media are out of control with a deliberate and unmistakable leftist agenda.”
It was signed by conservative royalty, including Brent Bozell, Gary Bauer, Ed Meese, Tony Perkins, Rush Limbaugh and Richard Viguerie. It included a list of chronic offenses and concluded, “It is time the American people turn you who are offending off, once and for all. You have betrayed their trust.
Carr's defense predictably focusing on the Wall Street Journal editorial page and talk radio, ignoring CBS, NBC/MSNBC, and ABC, and the bias of his own newpaper, before again falsely claiming conservatives are crying "conspiracy."
Many Republicans see bias lurking in every live shot, but the growing hegemony of conservative voices makes manufacturing a partisan conspiracy a practical impossibility.
But who is saying "conspiracy"? As then-CBS journalist Bernard Goldberg famously wrote in 1996," ...we don't sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we're going to slant the news. We don't have to. It comes naturally to most reporters."
Matt Sheffield at Newsbusters had a withering riposte to Carr.
The leaps in logic are enough to make one's head spin. So apparently, even though all the broadcast networks, CNN and MSNBC, NPR, and every other newspaper with a large circulation is controlled by people who are liberal, there is a “growing hegemony” of conservatives in the media? How does that work out exactly? In David Carr’s world, one cable network, an editorial page and a handful of talk radio shows completely overwhelm the audience and influence of the vast majority of the American media apparatus.
Ironically, during the 2008 Republican National Convention, Carr took an unflattering look at the snobby anti-Sarah Palin prejudice of his journalistic colleagues:
Before Gov. Sarah Palin came flying in from the wilds of Alaska for the Republican convention in St. Paul, there was a lot of sniggering in media rooms and satellite trucks about her beauty queen looks and rustic hobbies, and the suggestion that she was better suited to be a calendar model for a local auto body shop than a holder of the second-highest office in the land....In the press galleries at the convention, journalists wrinkled their noses in disgust when Piper, Ms. Palin's youngest daughter, was filmed kitty-licking her baby brother's hair into place. But to many Americans - including some I talked to in the convention hall - that looked like family church on Sunday, evidence of good breeding and sibling regard.
-- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site.