In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama lashed out at Fox News, calling it “destructive” to the country and bemoaning the news channel’s supposed bias.
Obama has been attacking the conservative media since the early days of his administration. But never has he been quite so candid about why he loathes Fox News. Because it espouses a “point of view that I disagree with,” he explained.
The President’s taunts were a fitting prelude to a Gallup survey released the following day. It found that trust of the mainstream media has sunk to a record low. Obama and other liberal elites cannot accept that Fox News owes its success in part to a mainstream media whose popularity have waned as their leftwing bias has become more graphic.
In other words, the conservative media wouldn’t be such a bane for Obama had the journalistic establishment not long ago abandoned all semblance of objectivity.
The Gallup poll, released September 29,, found that “for the fourth straight year, the majority of Americans say they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The 57% who now say this is a record high.”
Not coincidentally, Gallup further found that trust in the mass media has plummeted with public trust in other institutions controlled by the Left—Congress, the executive branch and the judiciary.
And while Obama slams the Right for its alleged bias, most Americans look left for examples of media malpractice. According to Gallup, more than three times as many Americans think the media are too liberal as think they are too conservative, 48% to 15%.
As you would expect, Democrats and liberals are far more likely than others to trust the media. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats trust the media, while 39% of independents and 32% of Republicans trust the media.
Interestingly, however, nearly a quarter of Democrats, 22%, believe the mass media are too liberal.
It’s not news that the media are biased to the left. For decades, polls have shown that the vast majority of journalists vote for Democratic candidates and take liberal positions on economic, foreign policy and social issues. Even when Ronald Reagan was winning landslides, he was losing among those who reported on him.
Nor was it very surprising when a July survey discovered huge gaps between the way Washington elites (including journalists) and the rest of America view various politicians and political issues. A Penn Schoen Berland poll found that the D.C. insiders were far more likely than most Americans to dislike Sarah Palin, believe the Tea Party movement was a fad (that was before the media began vilifying it) and regard values issues as unimportant.
It wasn’t so long ago that what the media told us was news was the news. That worked at a time when most reporters had professional integrity. Sure they had personal opinions and biases like everyone else. But most took pride in the journalistic ethic of rigorous objectivity. Even the opinion writers were generally even-handed and intellectually honest.
Now the mainstream media establishment is in shambles. Liberal elites would like to blame it on the rise of the new media. That’s certainly part of the reason. A May Pew survey found that half of Americans now get their news from the people around them, through email, social networking sites, etc.
But the Old Media’s abandonment of objective reporting and analysis has helped drive millions of Americans away from them and toward the social networking sites as well as conservative outlets.
The mainstream media sheds readers and viewers with each instance of overt bias. Each time a TV network fabricates a story, like Dan Rather forging George W. Bush’s National Guard documents, it loses viewers.
Each time a New York Times story about a terrorist act omits the pertinent fact that the assailant was a Muslim jihadist motivated by his faith, the Times loses subscribers. Each time a newsworthy story goes unreported by the mainstream media, such as the Van Jones scandal or the Tea Party’s emergence, the mainstream media loses followers.
For decades, liberals would shout, “If you don’t like what’s on television, don’t watch!” Now that millions of Americans have taken their advice, they’re panicking. The Left wants the Federal Trade Commission to bail out the newspaper industry so that taxpayers can pay for more liberal propaganda that few Americans want. And they’d like to shut down conservative talk radio by foisting the so-called Fairness Doctrine on the public.
Interestingly, when Obama defended the Ground Zero mosque a few weeks ago, he had no trouble citing the 1st Amendment and leaving it at that. In his remarks to Rolling Stone, however, Obama acknowledged only in passing that “part of that Constitution is a free press” before launching into his invective against Fox News. It seems that to the President a dissident news channel is more cause for outrage than a mosque steps from Ground Zero.
Our fundamentally center-right nation has often been governed by liberal majorities because the Left controls most of the major institutions that matter, especially the media.
Conservatives are doing great work in reaching an under-served market. But their success wouldn’t be possible without the mainstream media, which continues to reflect a worldview that most Americans cannot recognize.