The Note, a widely read and respected daily digest of political coverage and insights produced by the ABC News political unit, published the following passage yesterday summarizing the supposed liberal bias of the Washington and political press corps. The Center for American Progress, in a friendly attempt to offer our insights on conservative bias in Washington, has revised The Note’s words slightly to better reflect the real state of affairs today.
From The Note:
Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.
They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are "conservative positions."
They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation's problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don't have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.
More systematically, the press believes that fluid narratives in coverage are better than static storylines; that new things are more interesting than old things; that close races are preferable to loose ones; and that incumbents are destined for dethroning, somehow.
The press, by and large, does not accept President Bush's justifications for the Iraq war – in any of its WMD, imminent threat, or evil-doer formulations. It does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly be wary of multilateral institutions or friendly, sophisticated European allies.
It does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy by stimulating summer spending.
It remains fixated on the unemployment rate.
It believes President Bush is "walking a fine line" with regards to the gay marriage issue, choosing between "tolerance" and his "right-wing base."
It still has a hard time understanding how, despite the drumbeat of conservative grass-top complaints about overspending and deficits, President Bush's base remains extremely and loyally devoted to him – and it looks for every opportunity to find cracks in that base.
Of course, the swirling Joe Wilson and National Guard stories play right to the press's scandal bias – not to mention the bias towards process stories (grand juries produce ENDLESS process!).
The worldview of the dominant media can be seen in every frame of video and every print word choice that is currently being produced about the presidential race.
That means the President's communications advisers have a choice:
Try to change the storyline and the press' attitude, or try to win this election without changing them.
What The Note Should Have Written, by the Center for American Progress:
Like every other institution, the conservative dominated Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, New York Post, National Review, Weekly Standard, American Spectator, Policy Review, Commentary, Human Events, the entire talk radio spectrum and most major cable television talk shows operate with a good number of biases and predilections.
They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that conservative adherence to the positions of the NRA, the National Right to Life Committee, the Family Research Council, and the Christian Coalition are mainstream positions, and liberal positions are "elitist," "immoral," and "radical" attacks on Christianity and the beliefs of most Americans.
They include a belief that tax cuts aimed at the top 2 percent of earners solve the nation's problems; that tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy pay for themselves and are good ways to cut the deficit and slash social spending and don't have a negative effect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by the Chamber of Commerce and major polluters) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.
More systematically, the conservative media structure believes that ignoring most pressing social problems, like 35 million Americans in poverty and 43 million without basic health insurance, is better than attempting to explain and address these issues; that the White House line on the economy and Iraq is more interesting than the rising mountain of contrary facts; that the president has locked up the race; and that the president’s use of $10 million in taxpayer money to put ads on the air promoting his Medicare plan – produced by the same media consultant who made the PhRMA ads ripping Democrats for opposing the flawed prescription drug bill – seems fair, somehow.
The conservative media structure, by and large, does not accept David Kay’s evidence that weapons of mass destruction were not present in Iraq prior to our invasion or that the Vice President’s office and the DOD's Office of Special Plans trumped up intelligence to justify the war. It does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly support multilateral institutions – now proven to have successfully disarmed Saddam following the first Gulf War – or our European allies who correctly challenged the rush to war last spring.
It does not accept the proposition that President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy provided almost no stimulus to the economy and are primarily responsible for massive budget deficits projected to total $5 trillion over the next decade.
It remains fixated on stories of economic recovery even though 2.3 million people have lost jobs since President Bush took office in 2001 and hundreds of thousands of Americans have stopped looking for work altogether.
It believes President Bush should drop the "compassionate conservative" gibberish and move wholesale to using the U.S. Constitution to bash gays.
It still has a hard time understanding how, despite the early frontrunner status of Howard Dean, the Democratic base remains focused on winning the election with mainstream, moderate plans that benefit all Americans – and it looks for every opportunity to divide that base through emotionally charged racial politics and wedge issues.
Of course, the swirling Democratic Judiciary Committee memos and Kerry fundraising stories play right to the conservative establishment’s scandal bias – not to mention the bias towards character assassination (Bob Novak produces ENDLESS character assassinations!).
The worldview of the dominant conservative establishment can be seen in every White House economic speech given in the Midwest and every Bush-Cheney ’04 fundraiser held in the swank enclaves of investment bankers and oilmen.
That means Senator Kerry’s communications advisers have a choice:
Try to change the storyline and the conservative establishment's attitude, or try to win this election without changing them.