In an old column for the Rocky, I asked KOA radio-host Mike Rosen about his oft-repeated opinion that The Denver Post has a “liberal bias on its news page.”
Can Rosen cite a study to prove this?
“I’d love to see one,” he said at the time. “I’m never going to have a study because I don’t have the time.” But he had no doubt about the leftward tilt of The Post, he told me, because he’s “documented dozens and dozens of incidents over 25 years.”
That’s the kind of thing conservatives, who go on about “liberal media bias,” tell you when you ask for proof.
The media is biased because they say so.
Lefties make the same undocumented claims about “conservative bias” in the media, I know, but not quite so often or loudly, it seems.
But, to be fair, a lot of lefties and righties don’t seem to understand that sweeping allegations of media “bias” can only be proven with in-depth studies that show a pattern of lapses over time. Not to mention the fact that bias implies a conscious effort to skew you, the reader. So it’s a tall task to prove bias, unless you just assert it because you think highly of yourself.
Good media criticism, which contributes to meaningful public debate and doesn’t mindlessly tear down professional journalism, focuses on specific stories or instances of coverage that we can debate and get our arms around. It points out inaccuracies, omissions, sloppy sourcing, unfairness, and the like, found in actual coverage in an actual news outlet, not alleged stories out there in the “media.”
Statements like the media is biased against “people who believe in smaller government” don’t fall in the category of good media criticism, and are pretty dumb, destructive, useless, and otherwise not befitting of a member of the media or a public figure.
Enter Grassroots Radio Colorado host Jason Worley and Rep. Cory Gardner.
They had the following cozy exchange about the media Thursday on KLZ AM 560, which airs Worley’s (and Ed Clark’s) Tea Party radio show from 5 p.m. t0 7 p.m. weekdays.
Gardner: The press likes to blame the Tea Party for a lot of things, because there’s a bias in the media against people who believe in smaller government.
Worley: You mean people like us.
Gardner: People like us.
I called Gardner’s office to ask what he meant by this but did not get a response yet. Does he really think the media are biased against him?
But Worley quickly answered my request for proof of the bias he and Gardner were upset about:
Worley: I think it’s pretty obvious. Cutting government can mean a lot of things, but why does the media always run to Social Security and Medicare. Why not stop all foreign aid, especially to our enemies. Why not tell the U.N. that instead of America funding 23% of its budget we are going to fund 2%. The media never seems to mention that the Dept of Energy was created to get the US away from importing oil. Why do they still exist? There is a ton of waste in Cabinet level depts, but that never is brought up. I will back off on the media bias when they take an honest look at what we are spending and lay off the scare tactics.
Salzman: There are huge generalizations about the news media. Can you cite a report or study to support your view that the media “always run to Social Security and Medicare?
Worley: Turn on ABC, CBS, NBC during the evening news and study. Do you need a study to be intellectually honest?
If you’re going to throw around the word “bias,” you do. To criticize the media, you should use facts, evidence, proof, and examples of the kind of coverage you’re talking about.
These things allow people to communicate in a meaningful way.