Media bias is a fact of life. Discerning citizens who regularly read newspapers or watch a nightly newscast have noticed a distinct slant to the left that gets more extreme with each passing year. Polls showing the preferences and voting patterns of journalists show it, and a number of peer reviewed studies confirm it. While most Americans identify as moderate to conservative, the news media is decidedly liberal.
The question I am asked quite often is, “Why?”
One study attempted to explain it away by looking at the areas where reporters are concentrated. The majorly of our news coverage comes from media centers in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago, which are all Democratic strongholds but there is more to it than that.
For a number of years the liberal national media was balanced by moderate to conservative reporters working at local newspapers and television stations, but this is no longer the case. Most local reporters desire to become national reporters, so they tend to emulate and adopt the group think that springs from above with the hope of being noticed, or at least accepted, by those who serve as gatekeepers for those jobs in the large media distribution outlets.
There was a time, when reporters prided themselves in being fiercely independent. However, if you think peer pressure is just something you deal with in high school, think again. Peer pressure is a reality in the nation’s newsrooms. In fact, a reporter or editor’s job may depend on whether or not he or she falls in line with the conventional wisdom.
So, how did liberalism become the gold standard in today’s newsrooms?
Our political news originates from Washington, D. C. Those who report the news depend on access to the leaders at the top. In order to gain access to these leaders, reporters must go through their staffs: the communications director or, more importantly, the chief of staff. Solid friendships understandably develop through these day to day contacts.
While staffers control access and amass a considerable amount of power on the Capitol Hill, these workers are underpaid, under appreciated and largely unknown outside the beltway. Nevertheless, these jobs are highly coveted. Most begin an as unpaid volunteers or interns and slowly work their way up the political food chain. By the time they reach middle age, they are looking for something better. Some run for office themselves to gain more power. Others become lobbyists to gain money. Still others took jobs in the media to gain visibility and influence. Those looking for jobs in the media turn to their friends — the very people they helped over years.
Most people forget that Republicans have had control of Washington for a very short time. The Democrats had a lock on both houses of Congress for 34 of the 40 years from 1954 through 1994 — the very years when television news came into its own.
The news media needs access to the Speaker of the House, the majority party leaders and those powerful committee chairs. Those members are the big “gets” for any reporter, for any network. The other members are just set dressing. They are grateful for any coverage at all.
The majority party controls every committee. They hold a majority on every committee and pick the committee chairmen. In 1994, Newt Gingrich broke the Democratic lock with his Contract with America, when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, however they have not held it consistently.
Over the years, those who ran the nation’s newsrooms, print and broadcast, became beholden to the staffers who granted them access to these powerful leaders. Therefore, when those staffers begin looking for media jobs, they were hired.
By the time television became the dominate force it is today, it was a wholly owned subsidy of the Democratic left and many of those former political staffers have or have had key positions that shape the news. They, in-turn, hired more friends, friends of friends or family members of prominent Democrats.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour are visible examples of those with ties to the Clinton Administration. CBS News President David Rhodes, Disney/ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood and CNN Vice President and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Virginia Moseley all have close ties to the Obama Administration.
Therefore, even though Republicans now control the White House and Congress, the media feels free — if not obliged — to ridicule, chide or belittle our present Republican leaders.
That is why so many important stories that are unfavorable to Democrats go uncovered. That is why we have so much “fake news.”