Media Bias: We’re Getting Closer to the Source

by John Eberhard
08/21/04

I just finished reading a book entitled "Journalistic Fraud, How The New York Times Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted" by Bob Kohn.

Having already read "Bias" by Bernard Goldberg, "Slander" by Ann Coulter, "Off With Their Heads" by Dick Morris, "The New Thought Police" by Tammy Bruce, and after having spent years doing public relations work, writing press releases, getting articles published and writing articles for magazines, I had a pretty good handle on the fact that mainstream news organizations in America are biased to the liberal side.

However, Kohn does an excellent job of breaking down for the reader specifically how The New York Times slants all their news coverage to the left, turning every story about anything the Bush Administration does into a slap at the President. Specifically, Kohn shows ample evidence that the paper:

  • Takes every positive story for the President or any other Republican and turns it into a negative story or casts it in a negative light
  • Jumps all over any news that is negative for the President or any Republicans, and in many cases states that there is criticism, dissention, disagreement, etc., without ever saying from whom (apparently only from the Times itself)
  • Minimizes, downplays, or simply does not report stories containing negative news for any Democrat (Swift Boat solders criticism of John Kerry, the Food for Oil scandal at the UN, etc.)
  • Trumpets any positive news for Democrats
  • Distorts their reporting of polls, once again in the direction of their liberal ideology

Kohn shows numerous examples of how the paper:

  • Slants the lead, or first sentence, of the story to accomplish the goals above
  • Distorts the headlines to add liberal opinion into straight news stories
  • Distorts the facts of the story to conform with their agenda
  • Injects opinion directly into news stories
  • Distorts with labels, i.e. ?ultra-conserative?
  • Uses loaded language to spin the story
  • Uses placement (either putting on the front page to emphasize, or burying a story to de-emphasize) to push their agenda

Note that Kohn does not even take up any of the editorials or op-ed pieces for the Times. His book covers only the slanting of the straight news reported by the paper.

There is a word for all this. It is called "advocacy journalism," meaning not just straight reporting of the news, but giving the news a slant that matches the ideological views of the publisher. It’s not a new phenomenon, but being this blatant about it and having the effects reaching this far and wide, is relatively new.

It should be noted that the Times was not always this way. Kohn quotes Adolph Ochs, who purchased the Times and became its publisher in 1896, and Arthur Sulzberger, his son-in-law who succeeded him in the 1950s, showing their policies for honest and unbiased reporting. This extreme bias only began under the stewardship of Arthur Sulzberger Jr., current publisher and son of Sulzberger Sr.

Given the fact that The New York Times is basically the most powerful newspaper in the world, and hundreds of other papers subscribe to its news service, printing many of its articles verbatim, and generally newspapers and TV news departments all over America tend to follow its lead in reporting the news, this obvious bias is a major concern.

And given the fact that the Times enjoys such an opinion leader status in the news world, I think it’s safe to say that in analyzing the Times’ liberal slant, we are getting closer to seeing the true source of the liberal bias in mainstream news reporting today.

I think that this brings up two critical issues that we need to look at.

Being Aware of Bias

The first issue is that for anyone who seeks to understand what is happening politically in the world today, and/or wants to be involved, it is critical to understand that the mainstream media (major daily newspapers and the TV news) are nearly all biased to the left.

If you just read a major daily newspaper to get your news, particularly one of the most liberal ones such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times or Boston Globe, you will get a completely slanted, incorrect view of what is happening in the world.

For instance, did you know that a Gallup poll from earlier this year showed that only 20% of Americans consider themselves liberal, versus 40% conservative and 40% moderate? You may heard that from one of my earlier articles, but if you weren’t reading this newsletter or going to the Gallup site or other conservative news or analysis web sites, you would never know that. Certainly The New York Times would never report such a statistic, because it would go against their liberal crusade.

If you only read the liberal newspapers and watched network TV news, you’d probably believe that closer to 70% to 80% of Americans were liberal, and that any conservative positions were "uninformed" at best and "stupid," "vile," or "hateful" at worst.

That is why it is important to know that there is a liberal bias, AND it is important to seek out other, conservative sources of news and analysis. See my resource center for such sources.

"You Need to Ask Yourself One Question"

The next critical issue is that you need to ask yourself one question. And it’s not "Do you feel lucky, punk?" It is:

Do we as Americans want to have newspapers and other major media outlets conducting advocacy journalism, reporting the news in a slanted and biased fashion?

Is this what we pay newspapers and the network TV news to do? Is that their job? Is the idea of unbiased, non-opinionated reporting of the news an outdated concept?

One might well believe that this is an outdated concept, based on the prevalence of advocacy journalism today. Certainly hundreds of newspapers and TV news teams around the country are injecting a liberal slant into nearly all their reporting, in a completely unabashed fashion.

I think you need to answer the above question for yourself. But I will give you my take on it. I don’t think the idea of unbiased, non-opinionated reporting of the news is an outdated concept. I think that most people don’t even understand that it is occurring. Many, many people (I wish I knew the percentages but I don’t) don’t even understand what the two parties stand for. Most do not recognize the liberal bias when they read it or see it.

But I believe that awareness is growing. The conservative alternative media and its devotees are nearing a critical mass, and scaring the living daylights out of the liberal media in the process.

Books like Kohn’s and the others listed above are blowing the whistle on this offense to the American public. And even other mainstream news media outlets are beginning to criticize The New York Times for its brash, biased reporting.

A change will come. It’s probably going to take some time. But it will come. When the public wakes up and realizes that they’re getting fed an extremely biased, distorted version of the news, they’ll go elsewhere.

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