In case you’ve been worried, thinking that the press tilts a little left, fear no more. Comes now WaPo ombudsman (ombudsperson?) Deborah Howell in today’s column to put all our minds at ease. A reader wrote with the temerity to suggest that the WaPo, “Continues to practice news journalism with a liberal political bias.”
This, as it turns out, is categorically untrue — in spite of the fact that they only endorse Dems for President, and almost exclusively endorse Dems for every other office. No matter, rest easy, they’re all right there down the middle. Don’t believe her? Check the latest Pew study on the topic from 2004, she says. It even “reflect(s) the finding of earlier surveys,” says Howell, so it must be true, right? It found, “That about 54 percent of national and 61 percent of local-level journalists described themselves as moderate.”
Whew! Sure takes a load off of our minds. What about the studies that find that overall, typically 90% or more of the Washington bureau chiefs vote for the Dem Presidential candidate every four years? Just more moderate behavior, presumably. These folks probably all think they’re good drivers, too. And engaging. And well-liked.
The problem here — the dirty little secret — is that these folks actually believe they’re moderate. Therein lies the rub. As a group, they are way left of center in their politics and reporting but think they’re in the middle. Fact is, you can’t even see the middle from where many reporters stand politically. Let’s have full disclosure, shall we? For all reporters writing on any political topic, how about they note in their by-line their preference for President in the last election. That’ll be a better indicator of their politics than any self-analysis.
We’ll help get it started: George Bush.
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