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Thursday, June 4, 2009
Kessler Won't Acknowledge Existence of Conservative Media Bias
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler's June 1 Newsmax column strangely praises the Washington Post for making "making an honest effort to be fair": "Hit jobs against Bush administration programs and Republicans in general have virtually vanished. Instead, the paper presents issues fairly. No longer is the other side suppressed or relegated to the last paragraph."

But Kessler offers no evidence that the Post ever did that in the first place. In fact, the evidence suggests that the Post has always had a soft spot for conservatives and their views. For example, in 2007 the Post published a fawning profile of right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin that glossed over her most controversial comments, and in 2006 published a similarly fawning profile of then-Fox News anchor Brit Hume.

Kessler cites another example of the Post's supposed change of heart: "On May 29, a Post editorial described Obama’s budget, with its reliance on $9 trillion in borrowing during the next decade, as 'simply unaffordable.'" In fact, the Post has long shared numerous editorial positions with the decidedly conservative Wall Street Journal.

Kessler then goes on to defend Fox News: "Although Fox News prominently features conservative commentators, when it comes to news, the network has a rule that guests from opposing sides must appear on any partisan issue." Kessler offers no evidence that this rule actually exists -- which is necessary because there's a decided lack of evidence that it's put into practice. As we've detailed, appearances on Fox News by employees of the conservative Media Research Center are typically solo or with like-minded conservatives, a nary a mention that the MRC is, in fact, conservative.

Kessler then disappears into disingenuous territory:

Regardless of one’s politics, most people want to feel they are being exposed to all sides of an issue. That is one reason has been so successful. With an average 4 million unique visitors a month, according to Nielsen Online, Newsmax is bigger than many news Web sites, including the Drudge Report. If ranked among the nation's top 10 newspaper Web sites, Newsmax would rank with leading brands such as The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. It is also one of the few Internet news sites to make a profit. Though it features conservative columnists and news angles that the rest of the media ignore, Newsmax prominently runs stories that are critical of Democrats and Republicans alike.

Note that term "news angles that the rest of the media ignore." In other words, Newsmax has a right-wing bias. Kessler just can't admit it to himself.

Kessler's claim that Newsmax is "critical of Democrats and Republicans alike" is dubious at best. In fact, Newsmax has been disproportionately criticial of Democrats, even going so far as to report outright falsehoods about President Obama's stimulus plan. Its columnists invent quotes to put in the mouths of Obama and his aides. And Kessler himself is guilty of distorted attacks on Obama and creepy obsequiousness toward conservatives.

Kessler further touts a claim -- unsupported by evidence since Newsmax is privately owned by Richard Mellon Scaife and Christopher Ruddy and doesn't make its financial records public -- that Newsmax is "one of the few Internet news sites to make a profit," suggesting that its supposed editorial balance is the reason for it. But it's not balanced, so that can't be the reason.

Of course, Kessler is on Newsmax's payroll, so he's more PR agent here than honest reporter. It's unlikely he will ever admit that Newsmax -- and, by extension, Kessler himself -- is hopelessly biased.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 4, 2009 4:26 PM EDT

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