Journalistic Bias and Arrogance

January 14, 2005

With the Howard Fineman piece on the demise of the Mainstream Media (MSM), Rathergate, and other developments of late, we’re hearing a lot of talk about the bias of the mainstream media — even more than usual. What we all must remember here is that we are all biased; it’s just that some are upfront about disclosing their biases and the biased nature of their reporting and others are not. This morning I happened on to a story in the Hartford Courant by Washington Bureau Chief David Lightman, titled, “Bush Isn’t Easing Up on Aggressive Agenda.” Nowhere in the piece is there any indication, as far as I could tell, that it is an opinion piece, yet it is riddled with Lightman’s subjective opinions, judgments and biases.

Update: Since posting this I was reminded that my friend La Shawn Barber had an excellent post on the Fineman piece earlier this week. Check out La Shawn’s insightful comments here.

The lede paragraph reads:

President Bush is eager. He’s a buoyant leader armed with an ambitious agenda fit for someone with the kind of overwhelming mandate he may not have.

Further down, Lightman adds:

He seems to virtually ignore that he was re-elected with 50.7 percent of the popular vote. While it marked the first time in 16 years that a president was elected with a popular majority, it hardly compared with the re-election landslides of Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower or Ronald Reagan.

In these paragraphs we are treated to the “reporter’s” opinion that unless a presidential candidate receives a whopping majority — how much, the non-mandate bellowers have never quite specified — he is not entitled to be ambitious about implementing his agenda. I’ve been writing a lot lately in columns and blog posts about these notions about mandates. In short, I believe the president has the same constitutional authority to try to implement his agenda if he wins by one vote or twenty million. It’s up to duly elected officials on the other side of the aisle to oppose him if they choose.

But I will add a thought that has occurred to me in the last few days. That is, could it be that the Democrats, by having attempted to undermine and delegitimize President Bush’s authority the last four years by pointing to not only alleged voting irregularities, but his failure to receive a majority of the popular vote, could have set the stage for any significant popular vote majority (three and a half million votes qualifies) to be read as a decisive victory? Please excuse the long sentence. In other words, by bellyaching so much about his lack of a mandate because he didn’t win the popular vote in 2000, they established the negative implication that a significant popular vote majority, such as Bush received in 2004, would give the victor a clear mandate. They have reaped what they sewed.

A few paragraphs down, Lightman writes:

Perhaps the most striking thing about Bush on the eve of his second inauguration was not his determination – that’s a well-known trait – but a glimpse of humility.

The MSM has been trying to paint the president as proud, stubborn, unteachable, immovable, steadfastly ignorant in the face of overwhelming evidence against his position, and the like. Here, with the brief stroke of a pen, Lightman incorporates that assumption as an irrefutable fact. His clear meaning is that President Bush has no hint of a humble bone in his body so that this departure is rather shocking. Well, I think this assessment is pretty much the domain of liberals and Democrats. I have met him twice and found him to be unusually humble and approachable. And, I also know that as a believing Christian he humbles himself before God everyday in prayer — and is quite open about that. Nevertheless, the MSM company line to the contrary remains and is not to be challenged.

A little further into the article we see this sentence:

Though he begins his new term with the lowest approval rating of any re-elected president in modern times, he’s convinced he can get a lot done.

Can someone please tell me what the president’s approval ratings have to do with whether he ought to try to get things done? These ratings change with the wind. I wonder if these “journalists” ever realize how superficial they reveal themselves to be while painting their targets as simple and superficial. Which brings me to the next and final point of this little rant. Lightman writes:

He addressed Iraq in the uncomplicated way that supporters love but critics find infuriating.

In this sentence and others sprinkled throughout the article Lightman repeats the liberal mantra that Bush is a simpleton or at least simpleminded. I won’t elaborate on that one except to say that I find Lightman’s wording instructive and revealing. He is basically telling us that he and his liberal colleagues don’t just look down on the president’s ability to cut through an issue clearly and act on it decisively. They don’t just view him as harmlessly simple. They find him contemptuous. Why else would it be infuriating? They have no patience for his ignorance and stupidity. Am I misreading this? I don’t think so. And if you do, I dare say you are unfamiliar with the profound arrogance of the modern liberal anti-Bush mindset.