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How Conservatives Treat Media Bias (Hint: Confusingly)
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How Conservatives Treat Media Bias (Hint: Confusingly)

Eric Alterman observes the pervasive conservative flip-flopping on media bias.

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  • Eric Alterman
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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks on
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks on "Fox News Sunday" in Washington, Sunday, January 29, 2012. Rep. Ryan received a surprise 40th birthday cake as host Chris Wallace looks on. (AP/FOX News, Freddie Lee)

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Last Sunday, on the very same morning when he complained on “Meet the Press” that the mainstream media were, in his view, treating Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney more harshly than President Barack Obama (of course without presenting any evidence), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) admitted on ABC’s “This Week,” “I’m not going to sit here and complain about coverage of the campaign because, as a candidate, if you do that, you’re losing.”

Ditto Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the former Massachusetts governor’s vice presidential running mate. Appearing (apparently without irony) on “Fox News Sunday,” the show that brought Rep. Ryan a birthday cake and whose moderator, Chris Wallace, bragged that “we kind of discovered” him, Rep. Ryan insisted that “it kind of goes without saying that there’s a media bias,” adding, “We’ve—look, I’m a conservative person, I’m used to media bias. We expected media bias going into this.”  But like Gov. Christie, Rep. Ryan did not have any specifics in mind when asked to present an example. And later, he sort of took it back—or at least his spokesman did. In an email to Politico, the spokesman insisted that Rep. Ryan “did not blame the media. He was asked a question about media bias and answered it. And his answer made clear it’s not something he worries about.”

One thing that many conservatives profess to worry about of late is polling. In a letter addressed to what they called the “Biased News Media,” conservative leaders Brent Bozell, Gary Bauer, Ed Meese, Tony Perkins, Rush Limbaugh, and Richard Viguerie signed a letter authored by Bozell’s right-wing Media Research Center, “holding the liberal media accountable for shamelessly advancing a left-wing agenda.” The signatories argued: “This election year, so much of the broadcast networks, their cable counterparts and the major establishment print media are out of control with a deliberate and unmistakable leftist agenda.” Again, not much in the way of evidence was presented. (See for yourselves if you doubt this.)

Read the full column (CAP Action)

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Eric Alterman

Senior Fellow

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