Jewish World Review May 6, 2002 / 24 Iyar, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
Conservatism can survive
despite liberal bias
Of course the news media are liberal. A survey of the
Washington press corps found that 89 percent of
them voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, while 7 percent
went for George Bush.
When I'm with my brethren in the news biz, whether
in the newsroom or at a press conference, I know two
things: I'm the freak; and 90 percent of the people
around me didn't vote for George W. Bush, hate
Attorney General John Ashcroft for not letting
medical marijuana clubs flout federal drug law, but
were furious that the Gonzalez family didn't rush to
pack Elian off to Cuba after then-Attorney General
Janet Reno told them to.
About the only journalists who won't admit that the
news media are filled with liberals are lefties whose
big beef is that the media are liberal instead of
I'm not whining, because I know that conservatism
can thrive despite liberal bias. Nor do I respect those
who quit reading newspapers because of the bias.
After all, savvy readers can see through the gauze.
Better to get the facts with a little bias than no facts
Besides, most reporters -- not columnists, who are
paid to be opinionated --
try to keep their ideology under wraps. Most also
strive for balance within a story.
It's in the story ideas, however, that the bias really
Here are some stories that you are very unlikely to
read in a mainstream newspaper, and certainly not
on the front page:
- Gender gap hurts Democrats. (The better half of the
gender gap is that men vote Republican.)
- Illegal immigrants cashing welfare checks hit record
high. (That's not the case now, but when it was, you
really had to dig to read it here.)
- Parents and students support standardized tests.
(Only stories against testing need apply.)
- Alaskan caribou herds thrive near oil pipeline. (If there
were a 10 percent decline in the size of the herds,
you know that there'd have been a front-page story
heralding ecological disaster.)
Senate panel rejects Kyoto global warming pact.
(Last year, a Senate committee voted to urge
President Bush to return to the Kyoto negotiations,
but to reject any treaty that exempts developing
nations, which Kyoto does.)
You also see the bias in the stories that papers
report on ad nauseum. When Prop. 209, which ended
racial preferences in state hiring and admission, was
on the ballot in 1996, The Chronicle ran more than
250 pieces (including letters to the editor) on the
measure from July to December.
Repetitive stories chronicled the fears of minority
students, with next to no recognition of students who
might be helped. Poll stories reported that women
"surprisingly" supported the measure.
The reportage was similar for Proposition 187, the
1994 measure that denied health care and schooling
for illegal immigrants. I voted against 187, but still
was appalled at journalists' frequent failure to report
relevant information, say, on the costs of illegal
Prop. 209 won 54 percent of the vote, and 187
garnered 59 percent. Go figure: Many reporters write
that support for either measure is politically risky.
Too many reporters saw it as their mission to defeat
Propositions 209 and 187. In the end, the constant
droning of the same arguments revealed a pitiful lack
of imagination, and a herd mentality, in a profession
that prides itself in its independence and intellectual
The mantra at the modern journalism conference is
diversity; but practitioners don't really understand
what diversity means.
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate