In a Vanity Fair media column last Thursday, Ken Stern -- president of Palisades Media, former C.E.O. of NPR, and author of the forthcoming book Republican Like Me -- declared that in his estimation, the right-wing isn't entirely crazy to see a modicum of left-wing bias in journalism.
Stern described how he spent a whole year digesting "a daily dose of Breitbart, the alt-right Web site that many journalists, including myself, have described as 'Trump Pravda.' The reporting, such as it is, is generally factually accurate, but mean-spirited and fantastically one-sided. If Breitbart were your primary news source, you would receive a view of the election that would be largely distorted and wholly unrecognizable to swaths of the American public."
By "distorted" he means it's not the usual biased left-wing news media, and by "swaths of the American public" he means the coastal elites who truly believe that The New York Times, Washington Post, and Huffington Post are unbiased sources of factual analysis.
And yet Stern conceded that bias was evident as well in The Washington Post's virulently anti-Trump analysis of the campaigns, although he believes that mainstream media bias against conservatives has "been hyped and distorted beyond all factual recognition. And there has always been, at the very least, a concerted effort at places like The New York Times and The Washington Post to offer a balanced view..." Really? A balanced view?
Not that this insignificant element of bias bothered him much, because Trump is such an abominable candidate: "The Post should not be blamed for criticizing a candidate who has demonstrated xenophobic, racist, and sexually predatory behavior."
Nonetheless, "for the first time in my memory, some of the major media organizations in this country have now abandoned all semblance of objectivity in furtherance of electing Hillary Clinton, or perhaps more accurately, in furtherance of the defeat of Donald Trump."
And thus hell must have frozen over, because we find ourselves in agreement with Vanity Fair."Trump is an affront to American democracy and common decency," Stern continued, "and if this is the price to pay for keeping him out of the White House, so be it. But there is most certainly a price to pay. The next time Fox News or Breitbart caterwaul about media bias, the claim will have substantially more bite to it." There has always been substance to the accusation of liberal media bias, but Stern and his ilk are only just now willing to admit to a fraction of it.
Stern still will not admit, however, to a "moral equivalency between Breitbart and, say, The Washington Post. That would be ludicrous." Right. Ludicrous.
Stern concludes by saying that media outlets that cater to their audiences' particular confirmation bias -- be it left or right -- will find it a double-edged sword: it "may be good for business, and audience, but it is most certainly not good for the notion of a democracy that depends on some notion of shared values and common discourse."