- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 29, 2001

To a conservative, the question of whether the media are biased in favor of liberalism is right up there with the burning question of whether the sun rises in the East. Their bias is so obvious, and has been demonstrated statistically so many times, and (for that matter) has been admitted so often by members of the media themselves, that it's hard to believe the issue is still open for debate.

And yet, the reigning monarchs of the media, both print and electronic, suavely and unanimously deny that they have any bias whatever. Their whole lives, they tell us, are dedicated to the search for objective truth, and anyone who charges otherwise is merely revealing his own bias.

This leaves a conservative with only two choices:

(1) To assume that the overwhelming majority of people in the media are so smugly self-satisfied that they genuinely believe their bulging portfolio of liberal opinions is in fact the simple truth about the topics in question.

(2) Or to assume that they are lying through their teeth. Personally, I belong to the school that thinks they are lying through their teeth.

Conceivably, there are one or two pompous windbags in the journalism business who are so full of themselves that they actually believe their steady output of liberal bushwah is simply the product of old-fashioned journalistic enterprise, refined in the white-hot kiln of their hard-earned wisdom. But the average New York Times reporter or NBC anchorperson is under no such illusion. He or she knows exactly what he or she is doing when describing the Heritage Foundation as "conservative," while leaving the Brookings Institution uncharacterized, or calls a Republican proposal a "scheme" and its Democratic rival a "plan." These people have been doing this sort of thing so long that it doesn't even bother them.

The statistical evidence that members of the media are far to the left of general public opinion is overwhelming. As long ago as 1981, a painstaking study by Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman established that never less than 80 percent of the media elite voted Democratic in the presidential elections of 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976. What's more, 54 percent described themselves as "left of center," and only 19 percent as "right of center."

In pure theory, of course, these people could keep their leftist bias out of their reportage. But they don't, as some of them across the years have incautiously conceded. Thus, the late William A. Henry III of Time magazine admitted, "We're unpopular because the press tends to be liberal, and I don't think we can run away from that." And CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg, writing in the Wall Street Journal several years ago, was even blunter: "The old argument that the networks and other 'media elites' have a liberal bias is so blatantly true that it's hardly worth discussing anymore."

Mr. Goldberg hung on at CBS for several years after that impolitic admission, but was finally eased out. Now he has written a whole book, titled "Bias" (Regnery Publishing, 2001), on the subject, and it is well worth the time of anybody who still somehow manages to hang onto a belief in the media's objectivity, or who would simply like a few fresh illustrations of how they tilt the pinball machine.

Is there any likelihood the media will recognize their bias and reform? I doubt it very much. The truth is that they have too much contempt for conservatives to feel any obligation to play fair with them, and they get too much satisfaction out of doing their small bit for liberal causes and leaders to stop doing it.

But the American people caught on to their game years ago and hold them in appropriately low esteem. And now, at long last, cable TV networks and radio talk shows are beginning to break the monopoly that these arrogant liberal "journalists" long held on the airwaves. So, better times are ahead.

William Rusher is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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