Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Liberal Bias in MSM? Why Don't You Ask 'Em?

Here are a few astonishingly candid excerpts from a Hugh Hewitt interview with ABC News' Political Director Martin Halperin. Aside from the usual MSM dodge of not admitting he is a liberal (read "leftist" in HazZzMat), his responses to Hugh's direct queries is ample evidence that the MSM has now become nothing more than a mouthpiece for Democratic talking points. Here we go. HH is Hugh Hewitt, and MH is Martin Halperin.

Talking about "hundreds" of media people working in, on, or about election issues this year at ABC, Hugh and Mark invite us into the "Who Knew?" department:

HH: Of those hundreds, what percentage do you think fairly, honestly, are liberal, and would vote Democratic if they voted?

MH: The same as in almost every old media organization I know, which is well over 70%.

HH: Isn’t it…Thomas Edsall, in an interview that I know you read, because you wrote me about it, he said 95…

MH: I think 95’s well overstated…

HH: He said 15-25:1 in the Washington Post, liberal to conservative. Do you think that’s fair?

MH: Absolutely.…it’s an endemic problem. And again, it’s the reason why for forty years, conservatives have rightly felt that we did not give them a fair shake.

Referencing a famous "prize" that Wonker, in his journalistic disguise, will never win. (NB, italicized excerpt was italicized by moi.):

HH: Does the Pulitzer matter to anyone anymore?

MH: Probably not to real people, but within journalism, there’s some prestige associated with it.


HH: Are there any main, big name journalists working today who’ve won a Pulitzer or not, or come in close, who are conservatives, Mark Halperin?

MH: I think…well, you know, in the new environment, Hugh, where you and Fred Barnes, and other leading conservative voices…

HH: No, I’m talking about the networks, CNN, ABC, the old media, plus the New York Times.

MH: There are some. There aren’t a lot, but there are some.

HH: Who? Names.

MH: I’d rather not name them, because they’re privately conservative, and I’m trying to get away from a world in which…I’ll say it again, because I don’t want anyone who tuned in late to misunderstand. The old media is filled with liberals. There are a few conservatives, but they’re just as entitled to their privacy as I am, but there are some.

HH: And these liberals…you know, Terry Moran on this program said…Terry Moran on this program from ABC, your colleague…

MH: Right.

HH: …said that the media hates the military, has a deep suspicion of it. Do you agree with that?

MH: I totally agree. It’s one of the huge biases, along with gays, guns, abortion, and many other things.

There you have it. A "conservative" from time to time might have won a Pulitzer, but only if he or she somehow successfully remained in the closet. We have stated in this space and elsewhere, many times, that, as in academia, the system is effectively gamed by a Stalinist strategy of completely closing off publicity avenues, friendships, and important social events to anyone who might even hint at a conservative view. Fully aware that they cannot compete with conservatives in the arena of ideas, the hard left has completely walled off most opportunities for recognition and advancement that rely on conservative viewpoints, unless those viewpoints are closeted so completely that the closeting verges on dishonesty.

Again, as we have said many times before, this party discipline has transformed not only the professoriat but the media and the publishing industry as well into a sort of giant high school clique or college frat party where only the "cool" are admitted. And to be "cool" in this environment, you have to be very, very left, even if you happen to be richer than anybody else.

Now that Hugh has gone this far, he decides to put a bit of icing on the cake. The money question:

HH: I think my giant unified field theory here is that liberal media has destroyed the necessity of the left having to debate, having to reach a message across, because you guys have always papered over the weakness of their arguments. And so, in essence, by creating an echo chamber, and by allowing them to get away with saying silly things, you’ve destroyed the incentive to be smart and facile.

MH: I agree.

There you have it. We've been screaming about this sort of thing, Luther and I, since we started this blog about a year ago. It's nice to see an MSMer candidly agree. On one hand, this demonstrates a candor I find surprising on the part of the MSM, which is stalwart in maintaining its "objectivity," a claim that has become laughable of late. On the other hand, Halperin's ready agreement with Hewitt's observation also demonstrates a breathtaking lack of concern as to just how duplicitous, and damaging, this kind of mass behavior has become in the context not only of education and politics, but in the context as well of the Global War on Terror and the battle of our open culture against the totalitarians who lie at the heart of today's dangerous Islamofascism, which has arguably replaced the Communists of old.

Yet old Commies, like the aging boomers who now run the MSM, just don't care. They're rich and famous, it's their party, and the Islamofascists are just fine. Because they hate Bush and Amerikkka. Just like the sneering MSM hates you and me.


M.A. said...

What on earth does it matter how Halperin votes? What matters is his journalism, and his journalism has a right-wing bias, not a left-wing bias. Looking at someone's voting record doesn't tell you much about their biases in reporting; you can only tell that by reading the darn reporting.

Anyway, the best take on the Halperin interview is here: http://tinyurl.com/y3s826

"Apparently, the most traumatizing and horrifying thing that could ever happen to Mark Halperin is for Bush followers like Hugh Hewitt to think he's a liberal. It is self-evidently very important to Halperin -- on an emotional and deeply personal level -- to demonstrate that he is one of them, or at least not one of those liberals. To achieve this, he made an extraordinary vow to Sean Hannity when trying to win Hannity's approval, in which he pledged that the media would spend the next two weeks compensating for all of their anti-conservative sins over the past decades, and now he is engaged in a truly debased and highly emotional crusade to obtain Hugh Hewitt's affection.

"I really question whether someone who has obviously made it such a high priority to obtain a very personal form of right-wing absolution can possibly exercise appropriate news judgment. If Halperin is willing to expend this much time and energy and shower Hewitt with such gushing praise -- and if he's willing to make such a public spectacle of himself when doing so -- all in order to convince Hewitt that he isn't liberal, won't that goal rather obviously affect Halperin's news coverage?"

Bingo. Now that Halperin has revealed his right-wing bias and his desire to be loved and admired by right-wingers, we must assume that ABC's news coverage is slanted towards the right.

Dr.Rodriguez said...

Any reporter claiming objectivity on a subject in which he is invested in is lying to himself or to those he is reporting to. The media amply recognizes this and sets rigid standards when the subject is money. When it comes to ideology, there are no standards, only concealment(of one's bias, sources, etc)

Svolich said...

MH: I think 95’s well overstated…

HH: He said 15-25:1 in the Washington Post, liberal to conservative. Do you think that’s fair?

MH: Absolutely.…

15:1 is 93%
25:1 is 96%

Halperin may write well, but he should bone up on some basic math.

Anonymous said...

The assertion that Halperin views liberal bias as not a problem is contradicted by the interview itself. If anything, he has correctly identified it as a threat to the profitibility of media organizations at least, and as undermining our form of government at worst.

Amos_thePokerCat said...

How someone votes matters because it is an obvious source of what their bias is. Halperin knows this. That is why he does not vote.

Halperin being concerned that Hewitt thinks he is a far-leftie is a strawman. Halperin would be equally horrified if after a 3 hour interview on the defunct Air America, the host still thought that he was right of center. I predict that Halperin would have reacted equally concerned.

Halperin thinks with metaphysical certainty he is somehow uniquely devote of bias. This is nonsense. If you have an opinion, then you are biased. Only the dead, and the unborn have no bias.

However, unlike Hewitt, I do not find an obvious smoking gun. Although, I too, do not like anonymous quotes about things like "Bush's fury" to be good journalistic practice.

john pearson said...


Halperin agreed the Washington Post was in the 93-96 percent liberal range, not ALL mainstream media.

That passage caught my eye, too, but if you look at it carefully, he's not contradicting himself.

Anonymous said...

I think you've used Halperin's comments as evidence to support your thesis unfairly.

Halperin acknowledges that bias is a problem, that it's damaged the medias credibility, its business interests, and even the necessity for the left to hone their arguments. He clearly states that this is a problem that must be fixed.

Give him credit for recognizing the legitimacy of the complaint. A few more like him would help a great deal.

Wonker said...

Quite a lot of comments. Here's a few back:

M.A. Thanks for your response, but you end up proving my point. You declare Halperin is a right-winger and that his journalism has a right-wing bias, and therefore it must be so. Sorry, doesn't work. Read Antonio Gramsci a bit closer. This isn't subtle enough for good propaganda. You have to be sneakier.

Likewise, your "best take" on this interview happens to be a gent who may very well be his own best publicist and who is very clearly anti-Bush and anti-conservative.

Your, and his (are you the same?) leftist position is fully harmonious with the current, Marxist, netroots position that holds the Democrats in thrall; namely, if a lefty, even a Democrat, varies even one iota from lefty orthodoxy, then that individual is therefore either a closet conservative or is sucking up to conservatives. (Ask Joe Lieberman how that works.) Sorry, you don't win an argument here by redefining the premises. Although you did get a free commercial for Glenn Greenwald, whom you cite. Thumbs up for that one.

In point of fact, you can't refute an argument by simply saying it's not so. Whether the MSM's left-wing bias (we don't call it liberal here)is 95% or 75% is irrelevant. It's like the professoriate. The imbalance is so huge, so significant, that the exact number is in the end quite beside the point. And they all admit this. And they do it anyway, because they can.

Dr. R, I essentially agree with your point. Frankly, if the journos at the NYTimes, Washington Post, et. al. would simply admit their obvious bias, I'd have a lot less problems with their propaganda because it would least appear in an honest context.

Most American newspapers were savagely partisan a little over a century ago and said so. Folks generally subscribed to the paper that supported most of their viewpoints and trashed the rest. The current "objectivity" claims in the media are completely bogus, as the out-of-control lefty MSM so often proves. The honest thing to do is admit it and move on. But the operant word here is "honest."

svolich: My answer to Halperin's math is buried in my response to m.a. 95%, 75%, it scarcely matters in the end. The MSM is as leftward-biased as all get-out. Now, at least, some folks are admitting it. Probably because they think they won't pay a price. Jury's still out on that one.

anonymous: good one. Newspaper circulation is going down the tubes. Frankly, some of this is probably due to the Web's scooping up some good advertising accounts which pressures column inches that have to be paid for. But the rest is clearly due to the media's waning influence, as demonstrated by less potential subscribers thinking they can't start the day without the morning rag. If you want to read fiction, you can still buy a novel on the Internet. Folks have been figuring that one out.

amos--evenhanded response, but I really don't put much in this notion of journalists not voting because that would cause them to be biased. I've heard that one many times before, including from Washington Posties, and it's a non-starter for me. Once again, I have to go back to my first respondent here, who declares Halperin a conservative or a conservative simp because the respondent SAYS he is. Just because a journo doesn't vote doesn't mean he's not as liberal as he can possibly be. It simply does not follow. It's not logical.

john: Good--and correct--observation. But, as I've said a couple of times above, the only difference between 75 and 95 in my book is that some media are almost totally biased to the left, while others are almost completely biased to the left. Either of these numbers, if pulled in by a politician on election day, would be termed a "landslide" by lefties and righties alike. (Well, maybe not. If a lefty were on the losing end, he'd call it a "moral victory.")

anonymous: Not sure if you're the first "anonymous," but due note that I gave Halperin some credit for his honesty in the second last graf of his post. Maybe this sort of candor will lead to greater wisdom, but I'm not optimistic.

Thanks again to all. Less than a week now to a night of heavy drinking for at least some of us!!