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Tuesday, January 31, 2017
No, MRC, WaPo Didn't Concede That Liberal Media Bias Has 'Documentary Backing'
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Scott Whitlock declared in a Jan. 27 post that "In an online column about the mainstream media, The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple on Friday conceded that claims of liberal media bias have 'documentary backing.'"

No, he didn't.

In his Jan. 27 column, Wemple was actually talking about liberal identification among journalists, not bias:

The characterization of mainstream media newsrooms as left-leaning hives indeed has documentary backing. Some of the research is narrow and entertaining: In 1990, for example, Washington City Paper — then under the leadership of current Politico media critic Jack Shafer — found that Tony Kornheiser, then a sports columnist for The Washington Post, was the only registered Republican among a sampling of 49 top editors, reporters and columnists at the newspaper. And Kornheiser was a RINO. “I don’t think the Republican Party would claim me,” Kornheiser told reporter Christy Wise, adding that he and his wife had registered with different parties so that they could receive mailings from both sides. Upon further reflection, he deemed his party affiliation a “mistake.”

The Pew Research Center in 2004 undertook a nationwide survey of 547 local and national reporters, editors and executives. The result? Thirty-four percent of national press identified as liberal, as opposed to 7 percent conservative (“moderate” was the largest category). Liberal identification among national press types had shot up from 22 percent in 1995.

Liberal identification by journalists does not necessarily equal liberal media bias, no matter how much the MRC is paid to claim otherwise. Liberal journalists working for a mainstream publication are arguably more likely than a conservative journalist working for a conservative media outlet to be fair and balanced (see: the MRC's Trump-fluffing "news" division, and you will never see the conservatives who demand that mainstream outlets skew right allow liberals to write at conservative outlets (CNS has no liberal columnists).

Wemple quotes the MRC's Tim Graham claiming that young conservative journalists want to work at mainstream outlets but aren't getting interviewed: "They’re there for the interviewing and not just the 20-somethings." But Graham provides no evidence that "mainstream" outlets are refusing to interview conservatives based on identification alone; it's more likely that conservative journalists have shown no interest in being fair and balanced.

That's uniroinically followed by Graham throwing shade at conservative writers who actually did get jobs at the Post:

He cites the trajectory of journalists such as Bob Costa and Jonathan Martin, both of whom once worked for the conservative National Review and are now at The Washington Post and New York Times, respectively. But does that mean they’re both conservatives?

Not necessarily, responds Graham. “Let me be blunt, though,” he continues. “Any reporter who is willing to blog for the National Review without vomiting is at least somebody in whom conservatives vest hope. We are so hungry for a foothold.”

It's that kind of ideologically driven logic that makes Graham a terrible media critic.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EST

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