Catching up

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on September 25, 2006

I'd been meaning to get to this interview of former Washington Post senior political reporter Thomas Edsall by Hugh Hewitt last week.

The entire transcript is worth a read, but I'm going to highlight a couple parts of it.

HH: A proposition. The reason talk radio exploded, followed by Fox News, followed by the center-right blogosphere, is that because folks like you have been the dominant voice in American media for a long time, and you’re a pretty thoroughgoing, Democratic favoring, agenda journalist for the left, and you’ve been the senior political reporter of the Washington Post for a very long time. And people didn’t trust your news product…not you, personally, but the accumulation of you, throughout the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and they got sick and tired of being spoon fed liberal dross, and they went to the radio when an alternative product came along.

TE: To a certain degree, I agree with that.

HH: And so, why do you think it’s wrong, somehow, for people to want to hear news that they don’t consider as biased? I mean, that’s what it is. It’s just unbiased news is what people wanted. That’s why conservatives like me got platforms, and our blogs get read, and our columns get absorbed.

TE: One, I don’t think it’s unbiased.

HH: It’s transparent at least. Everyone has bias. I agree with that. Everyone’s got bias.

TE: It’s transparent. Okay, that I would agree. And I agree that whatever you want to call it, mainstream media, presents itself as unbiased, when in fact, there are built into it, many biases, and they are overwhelmingly to the left.

I'd suggest that articles like the one I referenced here are evidence of that liberal mindset.

HH: I know, but national politics. Local politics is different. I think it’s in the selection of stories, stories not pursued. I mean, right now, the canard is oh, I covered the impeachment of Bill Clinton, liberal Democrats who are newsroom types tell me. I say, well, you have to. That’s a story you can’t…it’s like not seeing the iceberg, and taking the Titanic down. But in the agenda setting stuff…let me approach it this way. Is there any big name political reporter, and you know them all, Thomas Edsall. That’s why your book, Building Red America, is getting read left and right. Are there any of them who are conservative?

TE: Big name political reporter?

HH: Right.

TE: Jim Vandehei of the Washington Post.

HH: Think he’s voted for Republicans for president?

TE: Yes, I think he has. I don’t know, because he’s never told me. But I would think he has.

HH: And so, of those sorts…and he’s a very fine reporter.

TE: He is.

HH: He probably is a Republican. But given that number of reporters out there, is it ten to one Democrat to Republican? Twenty to one Democrat to Republican?

TE: It’s probably in the range of 15-25:1 Democrat.

I'd say that that guess is pretty solid.

To illustrate the point, I'll point you to this bit in the New York Times (via Powerline).

Mr. Chomsky, 77, is hardly an obscure writer. Many people have heard of the outspoken professor, who is a darling of the left, even if they have not yet read his work. “I think Chávez speaking to it renewed interest and made people say, ‘I know that author and I’m going to check it out,’ ” said Bob Wietrak, vice president of merchandising at Barnes & Noble.

But Alan M. Dershowitz, the lawyer and Harvard Law School professor, said he doubted whether many of the current buyers would ever actually read the book.

“I don’t know anybody who’s ever read a Chomsky book,” said Mr. Dershowitz, who said he first met Mr. Chomsky in 1948 at a Hebrew-speaking Zionist camp in the Pocono Mountains where Mr. Dershowitz was a camper and Mr. Chomsky was a counselor.

“You buy them, you put them in your pockets, you put them out on your coffee table,” said Mr. Dershowitz, a longtime critic of Mr. Chomsky. The people who are buying “Hegemony” now, he added, “I promise you they are not going to get to the end of the book.”

He continued: “He does not write page turners, he writes page stoppers. There are a lot of bent pages in Noam Chomsky’s books, and they are usually at about Page 16.”

Walking around the Union-Tribune newsroom a couple months back I overheard one reporter telling another about how much he was enjoying Chomsky's latest book. As part of the interactive nature of the blog, I invite readers to guess at the beat these two reporters cover in the comments.

A) Metro (local news)
B) News (state/national news)
C) Business
D) Sports
E) Features

I'll reveal the answer later this week.

0 comments on “Catching up”

  1. "B" would seem the obvious answer, but I will guess "D." The typical sportswriter today is about as left as the editorial board at The New York Times. Sports Illustrated has become just about unreadable with its descent into limp-wristed, politically correct, feminist claptrap. Even my local paper's sports page is rife with liberal dogma.

  2. I'd agree with "D". There's a certain type of sportswriter/sportscaster who feels as though they are missing out on the "real" news by working in the department they're in, and tends to compensate by grabbing on to the generally liberal conventional wisdon of the newsroom and taking it (to borrow a sports phrase) deep into the left field corner. Any reading of Mike Lupica's Sunday column in the New York Daily News (or any weeknight viewing of Keith Olbermann on "Countdown") is a good example of the mindset that treats your political opponents the way Yankee and Red Sox fans treat each other.

  3. [...] The staus quo isn’t going to change anytime soon. There isn’t nearly enough self-reflection in the newspaper industry to take this issue seriously. And, perhaps an even larger impediment to change, would be the fact that as Thomas Edsall said, the average newsroom is 15- or 25-1 Democrat to Republican. It’s one thing to see that number every once in awhile in a survey, it’s something completely different to see that as you scan through the political bios of all of the reporters and editors on your local newspaper’s Web site. Of course, on the positive side, that might make newspapers and other media outlets embrace a standard of diversity that is more than skin deep. [...]

  4. [...] about Groseclose book is that his work is far less anecdotal and infinitely more analytical. I can tell stories about business reporters chatting about Noam Chomsky’s latest book or about the editor who fell for the Bush states IQ [...]


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September 2006



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