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THE LOGIC OF LIBERAL BIAS (PART 3)! Kerry’s a liar, the Globe quickly said. So where’s the rag’s famous liberal bias?


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?

QUESTION 1: Senator Kerry, why didn’t you answer truthfully ten days ago when you were asked directly if you were sick, given that you were diagnosed with prostate cancer on December 23 and it’s now mid-February?

KERRY: Very simple, Glen. Very simple reason. Because my doctor was away and I thought it was very important for him to be able to be here and be able to explain what was happening, because I hadn’t finally resolved completely what the course of action would be. And finally, because members of my family, most importantly, had not yet been told. This had developed very rapidly in the course of February. I believed that members of my family deserve to learn not reading the newspapers but deserve to learn from me. And that’s why I made that decision. I could parse the word “sick,” I’m not going to. But I thought my family came first…

QUESTION 2: You’re running for an office where trustworthiness and truthfulness is perhaps one of the key ingredients or one of the qualities for the people seeking that job. Do you think people should draw any broader conclusion about your truthfulness based on the answer—

KERRY: No, I think every American would understand, Glen, that if a reporter sticks his head into your car door as you’re leaving to drive away and asks you if you’re sick, that you don’t owe them necessarily an answer at that moment about what’s happening…

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 right—those 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 spinners—well-paid and well-scripted—weep about that ol’ “liberal bias.” Big wet tears splash down their cheeks as they make a joke of America’s discourse.

Yep. After a decade of attacks on Big Dems, Eric Alterman’s 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: I’ve been reading an advance copy of fellow MSNBC-blogger Eric Alterman’s 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.

But what explains the treatment that major media gave the International A.N.S.W.E.R. group that organized this past weekend’s antiwar protests? David Corn has written critically about A.N.S.W.E.R. both in The Nation and in the L.A. Weekly, and points out that it is a front group (yes, they still have those!) for the Workers’ World Party, a “small revolutionary-socialist outfit with a fancy for North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il and the goal of abolishing private property.”…When such charges come from David Corn and appear in The Nation, it’s hard to dismiss them as right-wing propaganda. And it’s hard for journalists to claim ignorance. But most mainstream coverage of the protests makes no mention of A.N.S.W.E.R.’s unsavory connections, or minimizes them drastically.

What explains this treatment of ANSWER? It doesn’t mean that scribes are “closet Stalinists,” Reynolds writes (he says the press corps’ “laziness” is more of a factor). But he’s 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? Let’s 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 right—the 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 doesn’t 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?” Yes—the 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t even claim that.) In short, even the man who wrote the book doesn’t claim that lib bias pervades the corps’ work. But the claim of lib bias is deep in the soul—and 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 ain’t all that tough. After the trashing of Clinton, then Gore, it’s hard to say that the press corps is run by lib bias. But that logic will puzzle our spinners for years, until they’re called ugly names for so long that they’re 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 CAN’T CALL HIM LIBERAL: How “liberal” is our “liberal” press corps? At the “liberal” Boston Globe, they’ve long hid their deep liberal bias. No paper spun Gore as Big Liar so much—or went to such dissembling lengths to “prove” the con-pleasing proposition. But no matter—the Boston Globe is widely derided for its turrible “liberal” bias. It’s hard to square with the paper’s Dem-bashing. But Rush likes the Globe spun that way.

How weird was the Globe in Campaign 2000? Walter Robinson’s trashing of Gore was a simple work for the ages (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/9/00, 5/10/00, 5/11/00, 5/12/00, 8/8/02). But in September of that year, Johnson penned a comic-book piece that brought us right out of our chairs (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/11/00, 9/12/00). How hard would he work to make Gore a liar? Johnson clowned long and hard this day, but try to believe that the “liberal” Globe actually put this into print:

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.’”

In fact, Bush also says he wants to put Social Security money in such a “lockbox,” but Gore’s vivid imagery suggests that the money would be placed in some sort of vault. Earlier in the week, the vice president told one audience the lockbox would be “ironclad.”

The reality is that the term does not refer to a bank or an account, but the commitment to use all unneeded Social Security taxes in the coming years to pay off part of the nation’s $3.4 trillion debt. That way, when Social Security faces insolvency in 2037, the country will have more capacity to deal with it.

When Bush refers to a lockbox, he often notes that its benefit would be to reduce the national debt.

Maybe there’s a way to be dumber than that, but if so, it hain’t been invented. Johnson’s piece bore this pleasing headline: GORE’S RHETORIC SEEN LOOSE WITH FACTS. And oh yes—as he complained about Gore’s 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 Internet”…
Complaining 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 Gore’s “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 can’t call him liberal. Nor can you slam the Globe’s “liberal bias” as it puts Johnson’s work into print.

The Daily update

DAILY LOGIC: Are we accusing the Globe of conservative bias? No, our claim is something quite different. We merely claim this: It’s hard to slam the Globe for liberal bias when the paper has struggled to make Big Dems liars. You might think that Johnson showed good judgment Tuesday. Even so, would a paper thick with liberal bias go after a Big Major Dem in this way? Thanks to Johnson, almost every story about Kerry’s cancer has included a question about his “integrity.” Would a press corps thick with liberal bias really keep doing its business this way? And remember, the Globe has slimed Kerry long and hard—for everything from the monogrammed shirts he wore in high school to those “war crimes” he pulled back in Nam.

For the record, here is Dan Balz’s 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.

After consulting with his regular physician, Gerald J. Doyle of Boston, with Walsh and with others, Kerry elected to have his prostate removed rather than another course of treatment.

Let’s admit it—Kerry 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?