Media Bias

MEDIA BIAS….One of the staples of Instapundit ? you can usually find two or three examples a day ? is a breathless attack on supposed liberal media bias accompanied by the kind of “proof” that disappears in a cloud of smoke if you trouble yourself to click the link and actually read the story in question. (Needless to say, most of his readers don’t.) But while I expect that kind of thing from Glenn, I don’t expect it from OxBlog’s David Adesnik, who is normally much more thoughtful about this stuff.

Unfortunately, attending a presentation by the undoubtedly liberal Hendrik Hertzberg seems to have been too much for him. Today he writes about Hertzberg’s contention that the media’s coverage of the Swift Boat controversy hurt Kerry:

I wonder what newspapers Hertzberg has been reading. Certainly not the NYT or LAT or even the WaPo. As Jonathan Last has pointed out, all of the major media outlets, both print and broadcast, ignored the Swift Vets’ story until Kerry himself counterrattacked.

This is wildly misleading. Kerry’s first pushback on the charges from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was on August 19. The Los Angeles Times ran a major story on August 17, the New York Times on August 20, and the Washington Post on August 22. All of these stories were clearly the result of in-depth reporting that had been started weeks before, at the time the charges were first aired. The reason the stories didn’t appear until mid-August is that the reporters involved were trying to do their jobs and figure out what the actual facts were.

David continues with this:

Then they provided coverage sympathetic to Kerry.

In whose universe? In every single case in which documentation exists, the SBVT allegations have been shown to be false. Despite that, all three newspapers ran stories that treated the SBVT folks as serious (though partisan) critics and left the distinct impression that there was really no telling where the truth lay. If they thought this would be helpful to Kerry, I sure hope the liberal media never extends a helping hand to me.

And finally this:

Moreover, the [mainstream media] still seems constitutionally unable to provide any reasonable coverage of Kerry’s fantasies about spending Christmas Eve in Cambodia.

That’s because Kerry hasn’t repeated this story for over a decade and the only discrepency appears to be that he had the date wrong: he was in Cambodia in January, not December. There is exactly zero evidence that Kerry’s trip to Cambodia is a “fantasy,” and certainly no reason why a reputable newspaper should give it more than passing notice.

If you’re going to complain about liberal media bias, it would help not to pick cases where even superficial analysis demonstrates exactly the opposite. As Hertzberg says, the Swift Boat story is pretty clearly a case where the media (consciously or not) aided and abetted the conservative story line, not the liberal one.