Bias by Story Selection
Most liberal media outlets can't be bothered to visit, let alone cover the Conservative Political Action Conference every winter. But this year's event drew a large amount of publicity. CPAC hasn't been this notorious since reporter/fabricator Stephen Glass made up stories of wild sexual antics and drug use at CPAC hotel rooms and bathrooms ten years ago for The New Republic.
The furor surrounded author and columnist Ann Coulter, who cracked that she would like to comment on John Edwards, but "you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot.'" Coulter's joke was based on ABC's intense blitz recently to press "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington into rehab after he used the new F-word at the Golden Globes. The word used to be coarse and insulting, but liberals are now elevating it into a profanity, which is odd, considering they're constantly desensitizing the culture to all the historic profanities.
But the most fascinating thing about this is how effectively it demonstrates how media outlets practice bias by story selection. Some stories are big. Some stories are small. Some stories are not only omitted, but smothered to death with a pillow. It all depends on who suffers.
Clearly, the Coulter joke story had newsworthy elements: the reaction of the Edwards presidential campaign and the negative reaction of organizing conservative bloggers are among them. But other stories that would balance out left and right, or Edwards and Coulter, are not being mentioned by our eternally calculating liberal media elite.
Let's start with Edwards, who hired two foul-mouthed feminist bloggers to attack some 250 million Americans who believe in God and the Bible. The feminists called them "Christofascists" and believers in woman-hating "mythology." How can our "objective" media highlight Ann Coulter, and then say nothing about Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan? And how could they ignored Edwards' performance? First, rumors said Edwards fired them; then he defended them and insisted their more hateful blogs would not appear on his website; and then they mysteriously quit on their own, or so we're supposed to believe.
Since then, Edwards has made the rounds of network television, yet ABC's Terry Moran, CBS's Bob Schieffer, and NBC's Meredith Vieira completely skipped asking him about this scandal. As far as all these networks were concerned, there was no controversy.
Kudos to Wolf Blitzer on CNN, who was the only "mainstream" media interviewer who seemed to greet Edwards without talcum powder and a pacifier. That's not to say it was a grilling. He merely glanced over the controversy by asking Edwards what these employment choices said about his campaign and what lessons he learned. Edwards repeated his pablum line that they promised to be good girls for him, but then departed for "personal reasons" because of the aggression of the "far right."
Edwards reacted to Coulter by saying "I think it is important that we not reward hateful, selfish, childish behavior with attention." But the media would let you believe that Edwards never had "hateful, selfish, childish" people on his communications team that would render his anti-"hate" talk hypocritical.
Second, look at leftist talk-show host Bill Maher. In the same weekend as CPAC, Maher grew upset on his HBO show that Arianna Huffington was such an enemy of free speech that she eliminated comments on her weblog from people who regretted that an Afghan suicide bomber hadn't killed Vice President Cheney. "That's a funny joke," he said. "If this isn't China, shouldn't you be able to say that?" Bill Maher wants to make the world safe for assassinate-our-top-leaders humor.
Maher then dug his ditch deeper. Even liberal Rep. Barney Frank wanted nothing to do with Maher's poison and tried to guide him back across the line of decency, noting that Maher's show selects which speech they're going to allow. Maher continued to defend the kill-Cheney commenters: "But I have no doubt that if Cheney was not in power, people wouldn't be dying needlessly tomorrow." Joe Scarborough joined Frank in trying to get him to denounce kill-Cheney speech, but Maher still wouldn't budge: "I'm just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live."
So why isn't Maher side by side with Coulter - no, trumping Coulter - if the big story is outrageous remarks about top politicians? Most media outlets like CNN and The Washington Post poured outrage all over Coulter, and didn't mention Maher's foot-in-mouth disease.
By selecting the story the liberals want reported, and ignoring the stories conservatives want reported, it's clear that the media elite aren't in the "news" business. They're in the liberal publicity business.