Do The Liberal Media Protest Too Much?
I am writing in response to Bruce Nussbaum's article "The myth of the liberal media" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Nov. 11). The mainstream press has paid only lip service to the dozens of scandals in the Clinton Administration. If these scandals had occurred in a Republican Administration, the press would be surrounding the President like a pack of jackals--and rightfully so. The press crucifies Newt Gingrich regularly, but it embraces Jesse Jackson, Pat Schroeder, and Charles Schumer as voices of reason.
You trumpeted the fact that 62% of the major news stories on Clinton in his first 18 months in office were negative, while only 51% were negative during Bush's first 18 months. Do you really think that Bush's numbers would have stayed at 51% if he had had his own Whitewater, Travelgate, or Paula Jones?
San Jose, Calif.
You correctly pointed out that many of the Clinton scandals were first reported by some of the same organizations accused of a liberal bias--The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. What you didn't report was that all of those papers endorsed Clinton.
In Texas, there's an old saying: "It's the hit dog that howls." It appears to me that y'all were howling in your article concerning media bias. BUSINESS WEEK's dismissal of the charge of liberal bias is like Loretta Lynn's comment upon Jimmy Carter's election: "I'm glad we finally have a President without an accent."
Robert L. Moorman
BUSINESS WEEK's dissection of candidate Dole's misguided campaign assault on the "liberal media" could not have been more accurate, more masterful--or more justified. As a newspaperman for almost a half-century and employer of many others in a large Washington news bureau, I can testify that we held to a rigid standard of objectivity and fairness. The publisher's ancient slogan, hanging before us on the wall, was a daily, sobering reminder: "Our Salvation Lies in Printing the News."
Our own personal voting habits or political preferences were not reflected in how we gathered the news, questioned news sources, or shaped stories for publication. To suggest that Washington reporters were biased because they voted Democratic is pure fiction. If politicians, government bureaucrats, and public figures said stupid things, we felt free to quote them. This may be a major reason for Doleful Bob's downfall and his mournful postelection entrance into well-deserved obscurity.
Lloyd M. Schwartz
If the media is unbiased, why was Anita Hill a hero? There was no evidence to support her claims. Meanwhile, Paula Jones is ignored or even ridiculed when she is backed up by evidence and corroborating witnesses.
Bryan J. Weitzel
Americans want fair, tolerant, and unbiased media. Because the media have refused to bring themselves under control, Americans are going to do that for them. The sentiment is growing to require each journalist to hold a professional license with requirements for continuing education--as is done in other professions.
Anyone watching the news anchors during recent preelection coverage on NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN can judge for himself the political bias demonstrated. To address conflict-of-interest issues, reporters and commentators should state their political leanings. We demand the same kind of full disclosure of financial analysts who may recommend a stock when they have it in their own portfolios.
Charles J. Garvey
The tremendous loss of news viewership experienced by the three major networks in recent years has occurred because people view their coverage as unfair. The networks may think their coverage is unbiased, but the perception on the other side of the camera or printing press is that the media are not reliable or credible.
The American people expect and crave honest, complete coverage of the issues and people upon which the future depends. Unfortunately, the American press has abdicated its responsibility to act as a watchdog against a potentially dishonest or overreaching government. People recognize this and are resentful.
Bruce Nussbaum's hasty dismissal of the Freedom Forum poll showing that 89% of journalists voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 was puzzling. He dismissed the poll because it included "only 139 Washington journalists." But aren't they the ones who we should be talking about: Sam, Wolf, Cokie, and company? Washington journalists report the news for all of America. The fact that 89% are Clinton supporters is not irrelevant. Furthermore, it is a little naive, in my view, to suppose that reporters are unbiased because they are "trained to bring fairness and balance to news stories." Right, and I've got a bridge to sell you.
Nussbaum cites few facts--but many quotes from experts sympathetic to his view. Meanwhile, the rest of us experience the daily coverage and editorials in The New York Times, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times, not to mention the TV networks. One wonders if any of those media outlets have ever met a government social program or regulation they didn't like. Nussbaum has it just right when he says that the public rates journalists as low as it does politicians, but he can't seem to piece together why.
The facts are that the American voter has moved gradually to the right and wants more control over the government. You might expect The New York Times or Dan Rather to miss this sea change, but not BUSINESS WEEK. Time to rethink, perhaps?