September 17, 2009
A Biased Media at WorkBy Janet Levy
The opening salvo in the Obama administration's war against conservatives and conservative issues, which played prominently in the mainstream media, was officially declared with the publication in April of the Department of Homeland Security Report, ""Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment."
The report cautioned that right wing groups might use issues such as illegal immigration, gun rights, the deteriorating economic situation and abortion as recruiting tools. It warned of undue reactions to the election of a black president and the potential for fulminate hatred directed toward specific racial, ethnic and religious groups. It singled out returning, "disgruntled military veterans" as vulnerable for recruitment and artfully referenced Timothy McVeigh, the convicted Oklahoma City bomber, whose accomplices Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, had previously investigated as a US Attorney in Arizona.
The report's focus on rhetoric or ideological issues over criminal activity and the seemingly sweeping indictment of conservatives caused alarm. Previously, government reports identified domestic threats from specific groups, such as the Black Panthers or the Weathermen. Instead, as radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh wryly pointed out, "you have a report from Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama's Department of Homeland Security portraying standard, ordinary, everyday conservatives as posing a bigger threat to this country than Al Qaeda terrorists or genuine enemies of this country like Kim Jong-Il."
This kind of frontal attack on conservatives is glaringly obvious, relatively straightforward and easy to counteract. Napolitano was forced to issue an apology to veterans. However, less obvious are the unrelenting, insidious tactics of mainstream media which disproportionately report events that favor liberals and liberal agendas over those of conservatives. The media has even gone so far as to censure coverage of stories that favor conservatives or conservative views. Such biased coverage or, entire lack of coverage, marginalizes issues important to the conservative agenda, damages the ability of conservatives to have their ideas accurately and fully presented and, ultimately, inflicts damage on the conservative position.
A case in point is the Sept. 11 shooting of pro-life activist James Pouillon who was gunned down outside a high school in Owosso, Michigan, as students arrived for class. Pouillon died of his injuries before a crowd of students and teachers as he exercised his right to legally protected, free speech.
Media coverage was meager in comparison to that of the extensive reporting on the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in May. The minimal coverage of the Pouillon murder included references to Pouillon as an "anti-abortion protestor" who practiced "in-your-face" protests against abortion and carried photographs of bloody fetuses. Absent from the stories were any balancing phrases, such as a "tireless crusade to save the lives of innocent babies." Instead, the coverage was characterized by thinly veiled disdain for Pouillon's commitment to a pro-life agenda. Further, pro-life groups did not use Jim Pouillon's death as an opportunity to score political points and attack liberals and abortion advocates.
By contrast, when late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller was shot to death in Wichita, media coverage was extensive and liberal political groups used the death as an opportunity for conservative bashing. The media onslaught included every major network, newspaper and talk show and continued for several days. References were made to "anti-abortion terrorism" and "harassment." Although Tiller's assailant was not associated with them, all mainstream pro-life organizations immediately condemned the murder. Within a few hours, President Barack Obama issued a public statement registering his shock and outrage at the incident. Feminists worried about the meaning of the tragedy for women around the country "who need this service." Calls were issued for a second look at the "scandalized" DHS report on the threat of "right wing extremists" and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder pledged to dispatch U.S. Marshals to protect abortion clinics and doctors around the country.
Tiller, prosecuted on multiple charges of performing late-term abortions which he successfully fought, was lionized by Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood issued a statement mourning the loss of an individual who was "an integral part" of their community and practiced the "epitome of high-quality medical care underscored by deep compassion for his patients." So far, no statements about the Pouillon shooting have been issued by Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.
Instead, abortion has been held up as a sacred issue and presented by the Left as a cherished and unbridled right for women over the control of their bodies, a view echoed in the media. The choice of avoiding the inconvenience of birth is viewed as sacrosanct and any criticism of this "choice" is deemed sacrilegious. Abortion on demand is ethically elevated over the pro-life position and put forth with a vengeance. How dare James Pouillon do something so egregious as to fight publicly for the sanctity of life and deny supposed, inalienable rights to extinguish a life! It's not surprising that the media echoes Leftwing positions in a political climate in which the Administration supports abortion on demand, partial birth abortion, taxpayer funding of abortion and removal of all restrictions on abortion, including the death sentence for babies born alive following the procedure.
This hypocritical treatment of issues germane to the conservative agenda by the Leftwing media abounds in numerous other examples. They include the overly strident censure of Republican Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) for shouting, "You Lie!" to Obama during a Congressional address. Wilson's outburst following Obama's fallacious claims that illegal immigrants are not covered under Obamacare has resulted in exaggerated tumult and feigned pretension that a new low in protocol has been breached. This phony outrage is especially egregious since it flies in the face of fact. Steve Cammarota, of the non-partisan think tank, the Center for Immigration Studies, has explained that no provision exists in H.R. 3200 to prevent inclusion of illegal immigrants and that an amendment to do so was defeated in committee.
Further, such outbursts have been seen before. Democrats booed Bush during a 2004 State of the Union address when he called for renewal of the Patriot Act. They hissed and shouted at him the following year when he proposed Social Security reform. Bill Schneider, a reporter from the Left of center network CNN, remarked about the heckling, "It was unusual. I had never heard it at least at that level before..." As for the claim that Wilson did not display proper respect, in May 2005, when President Bush was en route to Europe on Air Force One, then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told a group of teenagers at a Las Vegas high school that Bush was "a loser."
The disapprobation against Joe Wilson has reached staggering proportions, suspiciously occurring at a time when House Ways and Means Committee chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) is the object of corruption charges for unreported business deals in excess of $3 million. Wilson has become the object of abject disdain and has achieved the notoriety of becoming the first congressman in history to be formally reprimanded with a vote of 240-179 by the House for violating the rules of decorum. Huffington Post columnist Joe Ferraro has called for the reduction of his seniority as well as for his doing penance with "slave time" in which he would be forced to become Obama's "point person for healthcare" or "play dolls with the first children." The easily unglued New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that she believed Wilson's underlying motive for criticizing Obama to be racism. She ranted, "Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it." Mainstream broadcast media further fueled this spurious charge by airing the ludicrous comment by Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA): "And so I guess we'll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside intimidating people. ... That's the logical conclusion if this kind of attitude is not rebuked, and Congressman Wilson represents it. He's the face of it."
All of this fulsome coverage by Leftwing media contrasts mightily with the paucity of coverage given recent, nationwide Tea Party protests. Crowd estimates ranged from 250,000 to two million for Sunday's 9/12 Tea Party Demonstration in Washington, D.C. protesting Obama's health care plan and out-of-control government spending. The growing resentment over government bank bailouts, so-called stimulus packages, cap and trade energy restrictions, deficit spending and overreaching government control of industry helped fuel momentum for the protest. Police officers appeared calm amidst the polite, orderly crowd and riot gear, often seen at anti-war protests, was markedly absent.
But beyond Fox News and CNN, mainstream media offered limited coverage. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who claimed to be unaware that a protest was being held, proclaimed, "I don't know who the group is."
White House top advisor David Axelrod suggested dismissively on "Face the Nation" that the Tea Party movement was an "unhealthy" reaction to difficult economic times and "not representative of the American people." Over 2,000 Huffington Post citizen journalists prided themselves for disrupting tea parties across the country and intentionally causing harm to the movement with signs designed to tarnish the image of tea party participants. (See "Tea Party Crashers.")
At a time when half the country disapproves of the president's overall job performance, the failure by the administration and the mainstream media to acknowledge the significance of a protest of this magnitude against Obama's policies after only eight months into his presidency is remarkable. Compare this to the copious coverage given the anti-war movement during the Bush presidency. At that time, Medea Benjamin's Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, participating Hollywood stars, the Dixie Chicks and other musical groups, International ANSWER and a multitude of other anti-war organizations were treated to the media spotlight. The favorable publicity proffered to the anti-war Left was liberally used by the Democrat party to attack Republican administration policies.
A left-leaning media is no mere opinion or perception. A three-year, UCLA-led study, completed in 2005, confirmed that almost all major media outlets are left leaning. In this extensive inquiry, researchers found that only the much-maligned Fox News' "Special Report with Brit Hume" and The Washington Times scored to the right of the average voter's position. The study's conclusions speak volumes about media bias and its unbalanced perspective favoring liberals and liberal views of the news. Conservatives, of course, suffer from the double standard that disparages and gives short shrift to the events, issues and viewpoints that they hold important. However, a pervasive media bias deprives all Americans of the balance necessary to effectively analyze current events and draw intelligent conclusions for responsible, political decision-making. We are all harmed, conservatives and liberals alike, by biased media.