Confession, they say, is good for the soul, and I have decided to end 2004 by giving mine a thorough dry-cleaning.
For at least four decades, we conservatives have complained loudly that the major media in this country are biased in favor of the liberals. With the sole exception of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal (its news pages are another matter), virtually every major source of information available to the American people has religiously followed the liberal line. The New York Times, The Washington Post, all three major television networks, and both newsmagazines (Time and Newsweek) have fought conservative presidents, politicians, and ideas tooth and claw — all while professing a positively sublime objectivity.
Or so we charged. Recently, however, apparently driven to protest by the success of a few popular talk-radio hosts who make no secret of their conservatism, and by the appearance of one cable news network (Fox News) that ostentatiously presents both the liberal and conservative views of public issues, liberals have begun protesting that the conservative charge is untrue: that the major media are, in fact, dominated by conservatives.
So let me ‘fess up: It’s true. America’s major media have long been the lapdogs of conservatism, quietly but effectively purveying its propaganda to an unsuspecting public.
Space limitations prevent me from offering more than a few examples, so let’s start with the one that conservatives have long identified as the primary cancer on the body of American journalism: The New York Times. Are you among the millions who have been deceived by what we conservatives have long pointed to as proving our contention: that the Times, in its editorials, endorses Democratic candidates, for everything from president to dog-catcher, 99 percent of the time? Don’t be so naive!
Nobody reads the Times‘ editorials, or at least takes them seriously. Look, instead, at the Times‘ fabled Op Ed page. Can you believe that anyone seriously wanting to do liberalism a favor would give permanent weekly spaces in that valuable real estate to three such hysterical leftists as Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert and that rehabilitated Enron consultant, Paul Krugman? It would be fascinating to know how many thoughtful Times readers have been edged toward conservatism by weekly doses of their drivel. Do you think the Times is unaware of that?
Or take an example from that supposed swamp of liberalism, television news. Is it likely that as sharp a reporter as Dan Rather would really be taken in by a bunch of poorly forged documents purporting to prove that George W. Bush dodged his military obligations to the National Guard 30 years ago? Isn’t it obvious, when you think about it, that Rather, having decided to retire, chose to do one last favor for conservatism by pretending, just a week before Election Day, to attack Bush on those flimsy grounds, and thereby leave the liberals (and, bravely, himself) with egg all over their faces?
If you think I’m exaggerating the silent-but-noble service that America’s major media having been doing conservatives all these years, just look at the result. Is it likely that, if these enormously influential entities really wanted to help the cause of liberalism, and had been doing their best to do so for 40 years, the United States today would have a freshly re-elected Republican president, a Republican Senate, a Republican House, a conservative Supreme Court, Republican governors in California, New York, Massachusetts and a majority of other states, and control of most state legislatures?
We conservatives should stop deprecating ourselves, and admit the immense help we have received from the major media. Thank you, Dan Rather. Thank you, Mother Times. Thank you, all our secret friends in the pretend-liberal press.
We couldn’t have done it without you.