In Memoriam: Michael Kelly -- 04/04/2003 CyberAlert

RIP to Michael Kelly Who Countered Claims There is
No Liberal Media Bias

Sad news today. Nationally syndicated columnist Michael Kelly, the former Editor of the New Republic and The Atlantic magazines, was killed in Iraq yesterday in a Humvee accident while traveling with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

CyberAlert readers may be familiar with his work due to excerpts in past CyberAlerts of his columns countering claims there is no liberal media bias and documenting the radical-left, Stalinist leadership of the largest group behind the anti-war protests.

The Heritage Foundation's has regularly posted his columns and features a biography for him with a photo.

The Washington Post this afternoon posted a story by Howard Kurtz about Kelly's career (with a nice color picture of him).

Unfortunately, Kurtz chose to taint Kelly as a "caustic conservative." Kurtz maintained:
"As a columnist, Kelly was a caustic conservative who was merciless in his criticism of Bill Clinton and Al Gore and was generally supportive of President Bush, especially on foreign policy. In 1997, New Republic owner Martin Peretz, a close friend of Gore, fired Kelly as the magazine's editor over his continuing attacks on the Clinton administration."

In a tribute to Kelly, National Review Online's Byron York picked up on the same New Republic departure:
"He had the courage to speak his mind even when it might cost him his job and the approval of his less independent-minded colleagues. Some writers would do anything rather than say something that would risk the disapproval of the right people. Kelly wasn't one of them. He was fired as editor of The New Republic because he relentlessly criticized the corruption of the Clinton/Gore administration."

Read York's tribute, which includes an excerpt from Kelly's powerful 1998 column, "I Believe the President," go to: National Review Online.

-- The December 11, 2002 CyberAlert highlighted a Kelly column mocking the idea of a dominant conservative media:

You've read the point here many times, sometimes with numbers, but syndicated columnist Michael Kelly has provided a comprehensive set of rating levels. In his latest column, Kelly gives the audience numbers to show that the mainstream, dominant liberal media outlets have a far greater audience than the media outlets liberals consider so conservative and influential.

Kelly was reacting to the recent claims by Al Gore, Time's Jack White, in a quote first cited by the MRC, and last week's column by former New York Times and Washington Post reporter E.J Dionne who asserted that the media are now dominated by conservative voices: "It took conservatives a lot of hard and steady work to push the media rightward. It dishonors that work to continue to presume that -- except for a few liberal columnists -- there is any such thing as the big liberal media. The media world now includes (1) talk radio, (2) cable television and (3) the traditional news sources (newspapers, newsmagazines and the old broadcast networks). Two of these three major institutions tilt well to the right, and the third is under constant pressure to avoid even the pale hint of liberalism."

Read Dionne's column in full, which cited the intimidation success of the "ever-alert conservative Media Research Center."

In his column published in the December 11 Washington Post, Kelly, who was until recently the Editor of The Atlantic magazine, ran through the claims by Gore and others that they lost the election because of the rise of conservative media outlets which follow the direction of the Republican Party. Then he documented how "Gore's 'major institutional voices' are in fact minor (although frequently loud) voices in a very large symphony."

An excerpt:

In its search for What Went Wrong, liberalism has decided to admit that it has a problem. Surprisingly, the problem is us -- the news media. We went wrong, or rather, right. We went and became conservative....

What Gore believes, it has become clear, is a new liberal group wisdom: The liberal media are no more; the national press, wittingly or not, now presents the news with a conservative slant....

"Sooner or later, I think we're all going to have to acknowledge that the myth of the liberal bias in the press is just that, it's a myth," affirms liberal Time magazine columnist Jack White.

The true "new bias" of the media, reports liberal Washington Post columnist E.J Dionne Jr., "adds up to [a] media heavily biased toward conservative politics and conservative politicians."...

"Al Gore said the obvious," writes the liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who now commonly refers to "the liberal media" with sarcastic quotation marks.

Let's begin by considering the "major institutional voices" that Gore named as driving the entire national media rightward, ho.

There are precisely three, all openly conservative: Fox News Channel, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and the Washington Times.

Fox News has surpassed CNN as the news leader on cable, with, as of last week, 800,000 viewers to CNN's 600,000. The evening broadcasts of NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS were viewed last week by, respectively, 11.4 million, 10.5 million, 8.8 million and 2.7 million people. In addition, there are the tens of millions who weekly watch the networks' morning shows and news magazine shows.

The Washington Times has a daily circulation of 109,000. The top 10 newspapers in America -- USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the (New York) Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Post and Newsday -- reach roughly 9.8 million people daily. The second 10 largest newspapers reach another 4.3 million readers a day.

Rush Limbaugh's radio show reaches upward of 14.5 million listeners a week. (Fellow right-wing talker Sean Hannity reaches upward of 10 million.) The news magazine programs of National Public Radio draw a combined total of almost 17.2 million people a week....

The news organizations listed above make up the heart of the national news media, to which could be added the Associated Press, with 6,700 subscribing news organizations in America, the weekly newsmagazines, with their combined circulation of 9.3 million, and the "serious" and "thought-leader" magazines, with a few more million subscribers....

END of Excerpt of Kelly column

Kelly goes on to cite poll numbers to show the liberal views of mainstream journalists.

Read Kelly's column in its entirety.

END of Excerpt of Earlier CyberAlert

Kelly's December 11 column, "Liberal whining about the media," is also online at:

A week later he penned another column on liberal bias posted on

-- The February 28 CyberAlert recalled: "As Michael Kelly revealed in January, 'International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) is a front group for the communist Workers World Party. The Workers World Party is, literally, a Stalinist organization.'"

Read Kelly's Jan. 22 column, "Marching with Stalinists," about A.N.S.W.E.R., the lead organizer of the biggest anti-war marches.

See's archive of Kelly's columns.

> As neither an ideologically pure conservative or liberal, Michael Kelly brought an interesting perspective, which was always worth reading, to the op-ed page of the Washington Post and other newspapers. As someone who had moved rightward over the years, he knew how to undermine liberal arguments by documenting how the political positions of liberals often contradicted the espoused goals of liberalism.

-- Brent Baker