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The GOP's Secret Weapon . . .
The Weekly Standard ^ | 11/25/2002 | Bruce Bartlett

Posted on 11/16/2002 11:22:57 AM PST by Pokey78

Yes, it's the New York Times.

CONSERVATIVES COMPLAIN constantly (and rightly) about the liberal bias of the major media. What they don't realize, however, is that this bias probably hurts liberals more than it helps them. The Republican victory this fall is a case in point.

One way media bias hurts liberals is by giving them a false sense of security. There is a tendency for those in public office to judge their performance on the basis of day-to-day press coverage. If a congressman or senator gets good press, he assumes he is doing a good job.

But if the media share the lawmaker's political philosophy, then there is a danger that he may be misled. He may think he is popular with voters, when in fact they are not happy with him at all. He is only getting positive press coverage because the media like what he stands for.

Good examples of this are abortion, gun control, and campaign finance reform. A survey of the pressroom in any major newspaper, newsweekly, or television network will show overwhelming support for abortion on demand, restrictive gun control, and severe limits on campaign contributions. Any candidate espousing such views will generally get positive press coverage for them.

The problem is that the nation is split on these issues, in contrast to the monolithic view of the press. In the case of gun control, in particular, Democrats have had to backtrack from their hardline anti-gun position in recent years, lest they lose the last few rural members of their party in Congress.

Consequently, press bias is a two-edged sword. It irritates the heck out of conservatives, but at the same time induces a sense of complacency among liberals that can be exploited. The latter are, in effect, urged farther to the left by the media than is politically prudent, setting the stage for conservative upsets.

Another way liberal bias hurts liberals is that it causes reporters to underplay, overlook, and often completely ignore important political trends.

A good example of this is religion. Most reporters, in my observation, are agnostics. Those who are religious at all usually belong to mainline churches and denominations. Very, very few would consider themselves fundamentalists, or orthodox, within whatever religion they belong to.

And yet fundamentalism and the return to orthodoxy have been the most important religious trends of the last three decades. All the mainline Protestant denominations are losing members, while conservative Christian churches continue to grow. Among Jews as well, conservative and orthodox congregations have grown steadily at the expense of the reformed majority. And, of course, we are all too well aware that fundamentalism among Muslims has become the Western world's dominant foreign policy problem.

The point is that if a newspaper has not one person on its staff who is a religious conservative, how is that paper going to have any clue about what is going on among those who share such beliefs? A good reporter, to be sure, can cover any issue well, given time and resources. But what is going to trigger his editor's interest in covering the deeply religious when neither has much knowledge of that community in the first place?

The irony is that those in the media understand this fact perfectly well when it comes to race, ethnicity, and gender. They are obsessed with increasing the number of blacks, Latinos, and women in the media, and the rationale is the need to better cover stories of interest to these groups. Yet the same logic holds for many other groups in society, including religious fundamentalists and political conservatives, for whom no similar outreach effort is ever pursued.

The result is a blind spot for the media. They miss a lot of what is going on in society because they just don't see it. Newsrooms today are echo chambers, where reporters and editors hear the same liberal conventional wisdom over and over again.

All of this hurts Democrats far more than they know. To the extent that they pay attention to their media coverage, they are cut off from the mainstream of society without even realizing it, implicitly believing that Peoria thinks like the New York Times. Indeed, since the Times has become a virtual newsletter for the Democratic party, it surely deserves some of the blame for the Democrats' 25-year trend from dominant political party to what looks like long-term minority status.

Therefore, conservatives should stop worrying so much about liberal media bias. It exists and probably always will. Conservatives are not wrong to remind themselves that if it were up to the major media, not one of them would hold office anywhere in America. But if I'm correct about the effects of liberal bias, conservatives probably owe at least a silent nod of thanks to the media for their current majority.


Bruce Bartlett is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. He writes a nationally syndicated column for Creators Syndicate.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 11/16/2002 11:22:57 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
"Another way liberal bias hurts liberals is that it causes reporters to underplay, overlook, and often completely ignore important political trends."

There's a whole lotta misunderestimatin' going on out there.....

2 posted on 11/16/2002 11:29:22 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: Pokey78
One way media bias hurts liberals is by giving them a false sense of security.

Excellent analysis!

I think a great example of this was the 1988 election. I have always felt that the liberal press killed Michael Dukakis with kindness. He never realized how unpopular his stand on the Pledge of Allegiance and the release of Willy Horton would prove to be because the liberal press never told him.

3 posted on 11/16/2002 11:41:05 AM PST by Inyokern
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To: KQQL
fyi
4 posted on 11/16/2002 12:07:41 PM PST by Free the USA
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To: Inyokern
There is a lot of common sense and truth in this article.

Also, there's the "cry wolf" factor.

After decades and decades of media liberals predicting that any Repub victory will GUARANTEE that old people will be starved and thrown out of their homes, blacks lynched in the streets, and women enslaved in sweatshops, blah blah blah, then none of it ever happens, eventually even the dumbest of voters may have that golden "hey wait a minute!" epiphany.

5 posted on 11/16/2002 12:09:15 PM PST by berned
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To: Inyokern
"I have always felt that the liberal press killed Michael Dukakis with kindness"

Maybe it was intended as a kindness, but it was the "squirrel-head in the tank" photo that did him in. LOL, well I remember hubby when the photo was first published showing it to me and saying "They should have offered the photographer $500 to destroy this roll of film". And we were a lot younger then and not political at all. Yet already any casual observer could clearly see the dem's fecklessness and fakery.
6 posted on 11/16/2002 12:09:46 PM PST by jocon307
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To: Pokey78
The writer could have boiled this down into one paragraph.

The media has become a group of elitists. They believe that the voters are too stupid to understand the issues without them withholding half of the story. Being part of the elite they have enormous egos and appetites. They party with those that they should be writing stories about. The story has become about them rather than those they cover. They truly believe that without them, the masses would be misled and brain washed.
7 posted on 11/16/2002 12:10:06 PM PST by ODDITHER
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To: Pokey78
The result is a blind spot for the media. They miss a lot of what is going on in society because they just don't see it. Newsrooms today are echo chambers, where reporters and editors hear the same liberal conventional wisdom over and over again.

Just this week a local, relatively conservative radio talk show did a program on media bias. One of the guests was a professor from the journalism department of the university here in town. She was genuinely puzzled about the whole issue of media bias. She kept saying that no professional journalist would ever go after a story deliberately intending to present a biased view.

While I would disagree that no professional journalist would do that--I think they often do--but most often I believe the problem is exactly this 'blind spot'. Journalists simply cannot imagine that there is another viewpoint.

8 posted on 11/16/2002 12:28:12 PM PST by FollowingTheGrace
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To: jocon307
And we were a lot younger then and not political at all.

At the risk of being nosy, I'm curious about what caused your and your husband's political development. Was it just the gradual 'growing up' associated with the assumption of adult responsibility or was a particular event or person involved?

9 posted on 11/16/2002 12:28:57 PM PST by WarrenC
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To: Pokey78
It cuts both ways. And, I'm afraid, mostly the other way. Clinton could never have been elected to office, gotten re-elected, or escaped impeachment if the news media had been honest.

Worse the news media's habit of twisting and distorting the news is its habit of suppressing the news. Many of the crimes that Dems commit simply never get reported.

So, sure, maybe the media pimps make the Dems overconfident. But for the most part, they have good reason to be confident. Because they can commit any kind of election fraud, raise money from the Chinese by selling them nuclear secrets, even kill off inconvenient White House aides and cabinet secretaries, and no one will ever call them to account.
10 posted on 11/16/2002 12:46:12 PM PST by Cicero
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To: berned
GOOD POINT!! The people are getting tired of Democrap lies. Case in point was Dennis Miller on Jay Leno (check the FR articles from last week) he's a former liberal who now likes Bush, and he sees through the Liberal lies .. he wants Bush to kick saddam's butt. He mentioned something striking: every time he'd go to NYC his liberal friends would complain about Guliani being a 'fascist' etc., but the main thing he noticed was that New York City kept getting cleaner and safer. Now, post 9/11, nobody calls Guliani a fascist.

I think 9/11 also put the lie about Democrat fears in stark contrast. REAL bad guys showed up and suddenly the idea of scaring women with another Scalia on the court or scaring old people that Republicans might actually reform Social Security seems ... well, seems as hollow, hyperventilated and false as it really is.
11 posted on 11/16/2002 12:58:29 PM PST by WOSG
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To: anniegetyourgun
There's a whole lotta misunderestimatin' going on out there.....

You got that right. Bruce doesn't get it anymore than the DNC. The GOP's Secret Weapon in the next election will be the Democratic Party nominee, Al Gore.

12 posted on 11/16/2002 1:02:59 PM PST by hflynn
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To: hflynn
From your lips to God's ears....
13 posted on 11/16/2002 1:05:40 PM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: jocon307
Just for the heck of it:


14 posted on 11/16/2002 1:34:56 PM PST by governsleastgovernsbest
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To: Inyokern
I agree with you - and if we just stand back and watch, we will see this happening with Pelosi. She will get nothing but the best of press, while the public in general will be totally opposed to her stand on issues, and her attacks on the President.

She can possibly (along with Daschle) ... totally destroy the dems/liberals chances of gaining any ground in the election of 2004.

OTOH, DeLay will be vilified in the press - while he continues to be very popular with the conservative public.
15 posted on 11/16/2002 2:12:39 PM PST by CyberAnt
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To: Pokey78
"Newsrooms today are echo chambers, where reporters and editors hear the same liberal conventional wisdom over and over again."

All of this hurts Democrats far more than they know. To the extent that they pay attention to their media coverage, they are cut off from the mainstream of society without even realizing it, implicitly believing that Peoria thinks like the New York Times. Indeed, since the Times has become a virtual newsletter for the Democratic party, it surely deserves some of the blame for the Democrats' 25-year trend from dominant political party to what looks like long-term minority status.

Excellent column. Good post.

16 posted on 11/16/2002 2:24:54 PM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: CyberAnt
I agree with you - and if we just stand back and watch, we will see this happening with Pelosi. She will get nothing but the best of press, while the public in general will be totally opposed to her stand on issues, and her attacks on the President.

Absolutely.

There have been MANY examples of this in the past. The liberal press was caught by surprise by the popularity of Oliver North at the Iran-Contra hearings. It also initially missed the public revulsion over the Wellstone funeral-rally.

17 posted on 11/16/2002 2:39:55 PM PST by Inyokern
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To: WOSG
I think 9/11 also put the lie about Democrat fears in stark contrast. REAL bad guys showed up and suddenly the idea of scaring women with another Scalia on the court or scaring old people that Republicans might actually reform Social Security seems ... well, seems as hollow, hyperventilated and false as it really is.

Similarly, it showed the Democrats' age-old derision of Republican concern about the military and national defense to be incredibly naive and downright dangerous.

18 posted on 11/16/2002 2:40:03 PM PST by Dan Day
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To: CyberAnt
I agree with you - and if we just stand back and watch, we will see this happening with Pelosi. She will get nothing but the best of press, while the public in general will be totally opposed to her stand on issues, and her attacks on the President. She can possibly (along with Daschle) ... totally destroy the dems/liberals chances of gaining any ground in the election of 2004.

Or:


19 posted on 11/16/2002 2:42:51 PM PST by Dan Day
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To: Pokey78
Also, Bruce Bartlett forgot to mention the concentration of news organizations in large cities on the East and West coasts. In the past news organizations could shape perceptions of the news due to the asymmetry in the information. News could be quickly distributed from New York or Washington to the rest of the country, but news from Kansas would not be covered nationally unless it fit the agendas of the New York press. Now with the internet it is possible for anyone to follow news from just about any location in the world without the fitering of large east coast news agencies.
20 posted on 11/16/2002 3:00:53 PM PST by Paleo Conservative
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To: Lancey Howard; Pokey78
Newsrooms today are echo chambers, where reporters and editors hear the same liberal conventional wisdom over and over again.
The problem starts with the rules of entertainment which journalism follows in order to be profitable.
- tell a new story (meet your deadline=the show must go on)

- tell an unusual story (i.e., one in which the Republican is untrustworthy)

- tell a scary story

That adds up to negative, superficial, anticonservatism. Liberal politicians learn that anticonservatism from journalism--and then play that tape back to journalism. There is no reason why there would not be a revolving door between journalism and liberal politics.

There is no reason for talk radio apart from that propaganda axis. And no need at all for anticonservative talk radio. The anticonservative propaganda niche is completely filled by journalism itself.


21 posted on 11/16/2002 3:09:27 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: WarrenC
"was a particular event or person involved?"

LOL, I'm happy to answer this, because yes, there was a "magic moment". Hubby is still not political, I can't even get his fat behind to the polls, but he's more aware, so I think there's something about just growing older that makes one politically aware - call it a maturation process, call it "I just don't care what the Rolling Stones are doing anymore".

For me tho', I really did have an amazing moment. Firstly, I was always a pretty conservative person, just born that way, I guess; and I was ALWAYS pro-life; but for a long time I drifted around the left. I think this is pretty typical for a white middle-class gal from NYC. I even briefly joined some (Trotskyist!)commie party, which I left (after 6 weeks, at the age of 16) when they told me "smoking pot is not good for the party". It was 1976, and that was BS.

Probably 20 years later, working, supporting my little pro-life child, I went to the newstand to buy the Village Voice, as I regularly did, and on the cover was some undecipherable creature. Definately an Asian, or maybe an Hispanic, but who knew if a guy or a gal? A man with little perky breasts. Disgusting. I recoiled in horror, and still wanting something to read...there was National Review on the magazine rack. Amazing to me (WFB was a childhood hero of mine) that I had never heard of it before. At that point, it was all over but the shouting. By me. I shout real good.

Good bless WFB and God bless FR!

22 posted on 11/16/2002 3:24:08 PM PST by jocon307
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To: Dan Day

23 posted on 11/16/2002 3:41:35 PM PST by 6ppc
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To: Pokey78
But if the media share the lawmaker's political philosophy, then there is a danger that he may be misled. He may think he is popular with voters, when in fact they are not happy with him at all. He is only getting positive press coverage because the media like what he stands for.

Or the media tries to smooze the public with Joe Conason type hype; propaganda foisted upon the public like Nancy Pelosi, hardly a ‘he’. However like all shes in good standing with the socialist press, we are inundated with media drivel. Bias from any quarter will always worry me!

24 posted on 11/16/2002 4:05:22 PM PST by yoe
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To: 6ppc
ROFL!! Perfect! Just absolutely brilliant. Give that cartoonist a Pulitzer!
25 posted on 11/16/2002 4:06:08 PM PST by Dan Day
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
And no need at all for anticonservative talk radio. The anticonservative propaganda niche is completely filled by journalism itself.

That's why Rush Limbaugh says, "when people complain about my show not being balanced, I tell them that my show *IS* balance".

i.e., he's providing the conservative view that's missing from the mainstream media.

26 posted on 11/16/2002 4:08:55 PM PST by Dan Day
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To: berned
...sort of like the hype of Hillary running for the presidency? Hummmmm......
27 posted on 11/16/2002 4:12:59 PM PST by yoe
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To: Pokey78
In a minute.

No mercy.
Coming soon: Tha SYNDICATE.
101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that Internet Explorer cannot.

28 posted on 11/16/2002 4:16:52 PM PST by rdb3
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To: Inyokern
Liberals are starting to understand that radio shows like Rush Limbaugh's and Sean Hannity's are also a threat to them ans they open up the eyes of listeners. The far LW wackos will try more and more to have these programs regulated.
29 posted on 11/16/2002 4:31:40 PM PST by finnman69
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To: Pokey78
This is a very interesting and provocative article. I feel like a book could be written discussing the issues it raises.

The liberal media wants everyone to believe what they believe. They want what they believe to be true. Then on some election nights they hear that little voice say: "I don't think we are in Manhattan anymore."

I had an interesting experience at work this week. A very liberal lifelong Democrat middle aged woman and I were discussing a work related matter which involved some individuals who were obviously lying to us. Then out of her mouth popped these amazing words: "Yeah what they are proposing is just like Social Security--it is a Ponzi scheme." I am still in shock. This woman had just uttered a thought the media had tried to hide from her from the day she was born--for more than forty years. Yet somehow in her middle age she had seen through the con of FDR liberalism.

It was a crook in real life that gave her the glimpse behind the curtain.

So every liberal out there could become a conservative at any moment, and it is their life experience that will teach them about those Network Anchors who lie whenever their lips move.
30 posted on 11/16/2002 5:02:08 PM PST by cgbg
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To: Pokey78
Leftist media bias only hurts the leftists if people have access to other sources of information.

A recent NYT editorial on the election remarked bitterly that Fox News and talk radio "let the hard right get its message out." The Internet -- the most lethal threat to the old media -- was carefully not mentioned. The leftists must control the flow of information to win, and are no longer in a position to do so.

The failure of the leftist media to identify trends among conservatives isn't as important as this article suggests, since they weren't going to report on those things anyway...

31 posted on 11/16/2002 5:14:35 PM PST by Interesting Times
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

To: ProudToBeGOP
"She kept saying that no professional journalist would ever go after a story deliberately intending to present a biased view."

Goes to show ya' just how few true professional journalists there are out there...

33 posted on 11/16/2002 6:14:21 PM PST by Joe 6-pack
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To: Pokey78
The result is a blind spot for the media. They miss a lot of what is going on in society because they just don't see it. Newsrooms today are echo chambers, where reporters and editors hear the same liberal conventional wisdom over and over again.

And the circulation of the so-called mainstream press keeps dropping. More people are finding out that Rush is right.

34 posted on 11/16/2002 7:30:06 PM PST by Temple Owl
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To: jocon307
...there was National Review on the magazine rack. Amazing to me (WFB was a childhood hero of mine) that I had never heard of it before. At that point, it was all over but the shouting. By me. I shout real good.

LOL. Nice story. I cut my coservative teeth reading NR. WFB & Company Bump.

35 posted on 11/16/2002 8:18:08 PM PST by VRW Conspirator
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To: jocon307
...there was National Review on the magazine rack. Amazing to me (WFB was a childhood hero of mine) that I had never heard of it before. At that point, it was all over but the shouting. By me. I shout real good.

LOL. Nice story. I cut my conservative teeth reading NR. WFB & Company Bump.

36 posted on 11/16/2002 8:18:35 PM PST by VRW Conspirator
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To: VRW Conspirator; jocon307
LOL. Nice story. I cut my conservative teeth reading NR. WFB & Company Bump.

Me too! or is it Me Three!? I was always conservative by nature, but what sealed the deal for me was watching Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. being interviewed before a live audience by Woody Allen on some TV show. I have no idea what TV show would have featured Woody Allen interviewing Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. but there it was - must have been around 1965. Anyway, I was enthralled with Buckley's answers and then this rather cute teen-aged girl went to the audience mike and asked Buckley, "Do you think mini-skirts are ok?" He grinned and replied, "On you I bet they are." At that point I knew conservatism was way more fun than liberalism - and Buckley became the newest addition to my collection of heroes.

Thanks for responding, jocon307.

37 posted on 11/16/2002 8:51:19 PM PST by WarrenC
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To: WarrenC
"He grinned and replied, "On you I bet they are."

You are very welcome WarrenC. Great story, that's our Bill, he is really a treasure. What I always loved about him was that he never seemed to mind being smart. I was a pretty smart kid, but you know, other kids tease you about everything, even good things, like being smart. And I'd see Buckley on TV and he was just always so cool with his own brain power.

The demosclerosis continues, witness Lautenberg, Mondale, et al. At least they didn't drag Dukakis out of the retirement home!
38 posted on 11/16/2002 10:34:02 PM PST by jocon307
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To: jocon307
...it was the "squirrel-head in the tank" photo that did him in.

Not having seen the photo in question, I must say that I have a somewhat ghoulish mental picture right now... something along the same lines as a candidate in this last election, who lost by six votes following an accusation of running over a cat with his car.

39 posted on 11/16/2002 11:40:58 PM PST by exDemMom
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To: Cicero
Clinton could never have been elected to office, gotten re-elected, or escaped impeachment if the news media had been honest.

True. However, there is reason to believe the media is having less influence these days. The Internet, for instance, relatively small when Klintoon took office, is now huge. Talk radio is growing. The big three TV networks have been steadily losing viewers for a number of years. All of these trends, which were developing during the Klintoon years, now seem to have coalesced into something powerful. It's a wonderful thing.

40 posted on 11/16/2002 11:54:35 PM PST by exDemMom
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To: ODDITHER
Good Article,

But I personally believe that the secret weapon of the GOP is that actual CONSTITUTION and the Bill of Rights. As with both... the Preambles to both the Bill of Rights and the Constiution are to be held up in high regard.

It is easy to refute the liberal position in "Gun Control" by the wording of the "Preamble to the Bill of Rights".

Likewise, the abortion issue is easily handled by the "Preamle to the Constitution".

Actions and illegal activites of the Democrats in power can be easily attacked by the individual "State Constitutions". Everyone should read their State Constitutions. Everyone.
41 posted on 11/17/2002 5:47:28 AM PST by vannrox
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To: Pokey78
Consequently, press bias is a two-edged sword. It irritates the heck out of conservatives, but at the same time induces a sense of complacency among liberals that can be exploited. The latter are, in effect, urged farther to the left by the media than is politically prudent, setting the stage for conservative upsets.
I've never been upset by conservative election gains. ;')
George W. Bush will be reelected by a margin of at least ten per cent
posted to:
42 posted on 07/17/2004 1:30:01 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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