RM Issue #030805
Leading news outlets show left-wing bias
The Vancouver Province
Friday, August 01, 2003
Unlike the CBC, which still makes the odd gesture, however feeble, to appear even-handed on topics such as the United States or the Middle East, the BBC has given up all pretense. The public broadcaster of Britain is openly hostile to America and Israel.
After watching both Crown corporations cover the evening news last Sunday, I actually ended up preferring the undisguised anti- Americanism of the BBC.
Having noted this for the record, I most emphatically do not suggest that anything should be done about bias in the media, public or private. Consumers of information should expect political partiality whenever they switch on the tube or pick up a newspaper.
In 1996, Senator Bob Dole had the poor judgment to blame the liberal media for his poor showing in the pre-election polls. It only made him sound like a sore loser. He wasn't wrong about the tone of the media, though; it was liberal. A poll, much discussed at the time, found that a whopping 89 per cent of the journalists working in the mainstream U.S. media voted Democrat in the 1992 presidential elections. Only seven per cent voted Republican. Most journalists had been Clinton supporters all along.
This finding ought not to have surprised anyone who picked up, say, the New York Times or the Washington Post, or tuned in to the CBS, NBC or ABC networks, not just during the 1990s, but in the last 30 years. Many people who write and edit the nation's news organs, in print or on the air, happen to be centre-left, or left-of- centre. This has long been so in America, and even more so in Canada.
As a result, many leading news organizations are left-wing in tone. No matter how skilled, meticulous and fair, journalists are human beings. Liberal or conservative, their work will reflect their political leanings. Is this wrong? Not if you ask me. I've no patience with those who think that we should modify or re-engineer such human realities by some kind of "affirmative action" in political heterogeneity.
I was appalled to hear a Republican pundit argue on CNN some years ago that, if news organizations select journalists for diversity in race or gender, they should also select them for diversity in their voting patterns.
Such a cure would be worse than the disease. Canada's lib-left elite wouldn't agree with me, though. They'd call for some type of affirmative action -- not for conservatives, of course, but for themselves, if they thought their 89-to-seven-per- cent split was being threatened.
About seven years ago, the CBC put on a "documentary." It aired shortly after the then Southam (now CanWest) newspaper chain had been acquired by Conrad Black. In the program, establishment lefties expressed outrage at the possibility that their near-monopoly on public opinion might be challenged. They felt Southam's new owner might hire the odd journalist who wasn't a member of the left-liberal club. Black could be just perverse enough to do this, especially if he thought the journalist in question might bolster circulation.
Had anyone ever heard of anything as outrageous as this? The CBC clearly hadn't.
For CBC types, this raised the terrifying spectre that, in some future poll of Canada's newsrooms, a home-grown Clinton-equivalent -- Sheila Copps, maybe? -- might only get 69 per cent of the vote, not 89 per cent.
Much as our left-liberals worship diversity, they were always determined to draw the line at that.
-- CanWest News Service