THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2003
YOU CAN CALL HIM JOHNSON: When Kerry announced his cancer this week, the liberal press corps swung into action. These were the first two questions they asked:
KERRY: I am lucky, because on Saturday I hope to be back in Washington But I intend to be back and at it pretty soon. Glen?For the record, Glen was Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe, whose clownish attempts to make Gore a Big Liar make a joke of the Globe during Campaign 2000. More on his great work below.
Is your press corps driven by liberal bias? If so, it was well disguised once again when the liberal Globe adopted a theme of the talk-show rightthose Dems are all Great Big Liars. In truth, spinners like Johnson have pushed this theme in every context for many years. But despite the corps repeated attacks on Big Dems, cry-baby con spinnerswell-paid and well-scriptedweep about that ol liberal bias. Big wet tears splash down their cheeks as they make a joke of Americas discourse.
Yep. After a decade of attacks on Big Dems, Eric Altermans job should be easy (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/11/03). But on the other hand, his task is hard, because liberal bias has been hammered deep into our brains. Indeed, even our top perfessers seem overwhelmed by the logic. For example, here was Glenn Reynolds on his MSNBC site:
REYNOLDS: Ive been reading an advance copy of fellow MSNBC-blogger Eric Altermans book, What Liberal Media? Alterman tries, sometimes successfully, to demonstrate that some claims of media bias are overblown, or reflect cultural assumptions among reporters rather than deliberate political distortion.What explains this treatment of ANSWER? It doesnt mean that scribes are closet Stalinists, Reynolds writes (he says the press corps laziness is more of a factor). But hes drawn back to that hoary old charge: [T]his sort of behavior does the same kind of work that a biased media would do, and thus lends support to charges of bias.
Readers, where are standards? Where are standards when the logic of bias seems to kerflubble even our top-flight perfessers? Lets say, for the sake of argument, that the press tilts left on some issue or other. That tilt would be worthy of correction and challenge. But what exactly would it have to do with the prevailing charge of the talk-show rightthe charge that the major media, as a whole, are driven by a controlling liberal bias? The fact that the major media tilt left on Topic x doesnt mean they tilt left as a general rule. But this simple logic often proves too much even when our top perfs ponderiferate.
Does the ANSWER coverage lend support to charges of bias? Yesthe way a pebble lends support to the charge that the earth is made of nothing but sand.
Is the press corps driven by liberal bias? Given the trashing of Clinton and Gore, this hoary claim should simply seem silly. Indeed, even Bernie Goldberg doesnt claim that the press corps tries to help Big Dems; he only says that the press tilts left on certain social issues. (How about on budget issues? Goldberg doesnt even claim that.) In short, even the man who wrote the book doesnt claim that lib bias pervades the corps work. But the claim of lib bias is deep in the souland the claim is loved by talk-show right spinners. They plan to rend garments and yell liberal bias for as long as the market will bear.
The logic here really aint all that tough. After the trashing of Clinton, then Gore, its hard to say that the press corps is run by lib bias. But that logic will puzzle our spinners for years, until theyre called ugly names for so long that theyre forced to retool their great pleading. The talk-show right loves to yell liberal bias. Every pebble will prove their great thesis over the next many years.
TOMORROW: When Teddy White wrote his landmark book, he showed us what lib bias looks like.
BUT YOU CANT CALL HIM LIBERAL: How liberal is our liberal press corps? At the liberal Boston Globe, theyve long hid their deep liberal bias. No paper spun Gore as Big Liar so muchor went to such dissembling lengths to prove the con-pleasing proposition. But no matterthe Boston Globe is widely derided for its turrible liberal bias. Its hard to square with the papers Dem-bashing. But Rush likes the Globe spun that way.
JOHNSON (9/10/00): The vice president told workers at Gentex, a manufacturer outside Scranton, It is also time to secure retirement by making sure that Social Security and Medicare are put in an off-budget lockbox with a sign on it that says, Politicians, hands off.Maybe theres a way to be dumber than that, but if so, it haint been invented. Johnsons piece bore this pleasing headline: GORES RHETORIC SEEN LOOSE WITH FACTS. And oh yesas he complained about Gores dishonesty, Johnson went ahead and played loose himself. Yes, the Globe did publish this:
JOHNSON: [Gore] has a long history of making statements that stretch the truth, such as his claims that he took the initiative in inventing the InternetComplaining that Gore liked stretching the truth, the Globe went ahead and pulled taffy too. Sixteen months after his meaningless statement, the Globe stuck the inventing into Gores quote. The RNC invented invented the Internet. A year later, the Globe spun it still.
Johnson has long spun those Dems as Big Liars. Now, Kerry is also seen loose with the facts. You can call him Johnson, but you cant call him liberal. Nor can you slam the Globes liberal bias as it puts Johnsons work into print.
For the record, here is Dan Balzs chronology in the Post:
BALZ: Kerry learned the day before Christmas that the biopsy showed some cancer of the prostate. In January, he underwent a full body bone scan and CAT scan, which showed that the cancer had not spread to other parts of his body.Lets admit itKerry should have consulted with Johnson first, letting the Globe select his treatment. Next question: What kind of judgment did Kerry show when he fooled with his health in this way?