Conservatives’ Post-Modern Rejection of Journalism

A lot of people (including yours truly) have commented on the new Pew study of journalistic consumption habits and ideology. But at Ten Miles Square today, distinguished media critic and WaMo Contributing Editor Steve Waldman looks more deeply than most at the roots of the much-discussed conservative belief in a systemic “liberal media bias,” which drives them into the exclusive arms of Fox News (and precincts to the right of Fox).

There are “media biases,” Waldman explains, but they’re far from being exclusively ideological or partisan and often cut in the opposite direction even of personally “liberal” media folk:

In my experience, there tends to be a bias toward contrarianism among reporters and toward establishmentarianism and centrism among media executives. The general tendency of reporters to be skeptical of “the powerful” may sometimes tip them against the wealthy but more often it makes them antagonistic to whoever holds office. (When I was at Newsweek, the contempt for the Clintons was intense). At the same time, reporters are human and fall victim to the same adoration of winners as anyone else.

Most important, there is a “bias” toward career advancement, which invariably creates the drive to get scoops or drive traffic. That pushes the relentless quest for drama and pizzazz, rarely with an ideological motivation.

These factors ar rarely acknowledged by conservative media-haters, who often engaged in a postmodern rejection of the very possibility of journalism as a semi-objective endeavor dealing with empirical data.

Check out Waldman’s whole piece, which argues many journalists actually care about “truth” and “fairness.” Imagine that!

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.