Monday, October 18, 2010

Media Bias: Only The Left Can Offer Real Spending Cuts

Most people complain about media bias, but the media acts like it doesn’t know what they’re talking about. . . except when Fox News is being criticized. Bias takes many forms, from favoring one argument over another, to reporting one side uncritically while casting doubt on the other, to selectively reporting facts, to mischaracterizing one side, to demonizing one side while “humanizing” the other, to flat out lying, fabricating and/or distorting arguments or facts. Let's take a look at how the media has addressed the issue of deficit reduction for an example of a clear leftward bias.

Over the past year, the MSM has slowly walked through a series of attacks on Republican deficit reduction plans. Here is the how this attack went:

1. Republicans were first to demand spending cuts. The MSM immediately responded by attacking these cuts as endangering the economic recovery.

2. But the public wanted cuts, so eventually the Democrats came up with a competing plan. While this plan was less specific than the Republican plan -- suggesting only that someday they would cut wasteful spending and increase taxes on the rich -- the MSM immediately hailed the Democrats for putting together a “serious plan to reduce the deficit.” The MSM seemed to forget that until that very morning they were arguing that cutting the deficit would destroy the economy. At the same time, the MSM began criticizing Republicans for “not putting together any plan”. . . which begs the question of how they made the criticism in No. 1.

3. Once the Republicans began publishing their plan (to get around the media's attempts to ignore their plan), the MSM switched their attack to: “the Republican plan is vague and meaningless.” They never once said this about the Democrats, who offered even fewer specifics.

4. When this didn’t stop the Republicans’ popularity from surging, next came, “we agree with the need for cuts, but these are draconian.” So how does this fit with the prior argument that the Republican plan was vague and meaningless? Not coincidentally, the MSM never identified any cuts they would make.

5. Next the MSM touted the deficit cutting plans introduced by a handful of Democrats, which typically amounted to little more than a few pennies on every $10,000 of spending. No mention was made of the insignificance of these plans; to the contrary, they were hailed as “brave." The MSM then went back to criticizing the Republicans for not offering any alternative plan.

6. Then the MSM tried to turn the Republicans' refusal to propose tax increases as "giveaways" to large corporations and the well-connected. . . as if not stealing something is the same as showering the owner with their own property.

7. With the public still leaning to the right, the MSM next proclaimed that the Republicans weren’t actually serious about the cuts they proposed, and that they had no intention of following through. Of course, no proof was offered. They even had the nerve to ask why Republicans never submitted these before. . . even though they had, the Democrats just refused to vote on them.

8. When this argument didn’t work, they switched to the bizarre argument that the Republicans may be suggesting good cuts, but were offering them for the wrong reasons. . . seriously, they said this.

9. Then came “the Republicans won’t be able to deliver these kinds of cuts.” Yet, somehow the Democrats can? Actually, this has become a common argument in places like The Economist: only the left has the moral authority to make spending cuts or deal with unions or address Muslim countries, etc.

10. Next, they began attacking the specific people proposing the cuts, pointing out whatever scandal they could from the past. And when no scandal was available, they accused them of being too partisan and having angered a large part of the population, i.e. the hard left. They even attacked Paul Ryan for associating with. . . Republicans. Oh my!

11. Finally, when it became obvious the Republicans would win the election, the MSM returned to the idea that spending cuts would hurt the economy.

Notice that throughout this process, the MSM uncritically blessed any plan put forward by the Democrats as serious and likely to work, without ever addressing the plan's obvious flaws or asking why the Democrats couldn’t have done this during their prior years in power. Meanwhile, they repeatedly made arguments against the Republicans which were proven to be disingenuous once they moved on to the next argument, e.g. like when they suddenly argued a plan was "draconian" right after arguing that there was no plan.

Notice also that when they failed to win on the merits, they turned to impugning the motives of the Republicans -- as if it matters what your reason is for putting a good policy into place -- and then they finally attacked the individual messengers. With Ryan, they went for the ultimate tautology gotcha: we can find no fault with Ryan except that he is a Republican and therefore his plan is proof that Republicans are bad.

This is a classic example of bias. This is not analysis, this is advocacy. This is slowly walking through contradictory alternative arguments until you find one that strikes a chord. This is what lawyers do when arguing to an appellate court. Nor should it surprise anyone that the MSM outfits who made these argument were parroting Democratic talking points as they did. This is why people no longer trust the media.

So what examples of media bias have you seen lately?


Ed said...

This is interesting. I heard all these arguments, but I didn't put them in order so I never saw how they twisted them and kept contradicting each other.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Thanks. I thought it was interesting enough to write about. I've been watching this pattern for some time now and I see it in a lot of different areas. This was just the most blatant recently.

Ed said...

I see a lot of bias too, like how they always point out everything any Republican is alleged to have done, but they never point out the same thing by Democrats.

Did you see the polls on Drudge today? Rassmussen has the Republicans winning 55 seats in the House and ABC News says 63 Democrats are in trouble. This is gonna be great!

Unknown said...

Andrew: I second that.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, How many times have we seen that? Like the Mark Foley scandal which never left the news cycle, but how his Democratic replacement did the same thing and it never even made the news.

By the way, those are only a couple of the polls. Election analyst Stu Rothenberg says 100 seats are competitive. Charlie Cook says it's 97.

Those are great numbers for our side.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I third it then.

Joel Farnham said...


It not only is more blatent, the reporters are now threatening to hurt certain reporters with the temerity to question their favorites.

This IS caught on tape. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I hadn't seen that, but it's absolutely no surprise.

Think back on the Journolist and how that essentially created a secret cabal within the profession. Add in the fact that leftists tend to have no problems imposing their views violently on others and you've got a real recipe for secret police-like action.

(By the way, how goes the Tennessee fire department issue? Anything new?)

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I just watched the full tape -- here's the link in clickable form: Protecting Rahm.

Wow, three different reporters are trying to protect Rahm. The black guy keeps shoving the reporter who is trying to question Rahm. The white guy threatens him (near the end). And the woman keep saying "he's not a journalist." And Rahm refuses to answer any of the questions except the softballs from the Chicago people.

How sadly unsurprising.

Joel Farnham said...


It seems the Obrion County finally figured out what a good thing the city has going. They are creating a fee based fire department next year.

It is about half and half. Half think the guy deserves it. Half don't. It never occurs to the people, they could have fire protection if they changed some of what the property tax goes to.

AndrewPrice said...

In all truth, I see that as one of the biggest reasons this country is in trouble, that people respond to single issues at a time without ever asking questions like -- "well, were are the rest of our taxes going?"

That's what lets politicians blackmail the public by claiming "it's either a tax hike or fewer cops/fire." The public at large never asks, "well what about alternative C?"

Joel Farnham said...


It also harkens back to small town politics. You really can't hide. If it were to happen here, I would only be able to back who ever agrees with me. I am from California. My accent gives me away every time. My opinion doesn't count unless I agree with someone who grew up here.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I've spent time in a small town like that and I know exactly what you mean. They judge you by what high school you went to and who your father's father was. And if you don't pass those tests, then you are basically invisible.

Of course, as a lawyer, that gives you a lot of chances to fly under the radar and spring huge surprises! :-)

T_Rav said...

Eh, nothing big lately. Although I've noticed today that NBC is trying to spin this "being gay is a choice" comment from Ken Buck for all it's worth. Typical.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, They need something... anything to distract from the Dem's falling poll numbers and failed agenda. So they are focusing on anything they can that they hope will make Republicans look bad. The problem for them is that this cycle is about the Democrats, not the Republicans. So it rarely matters what the Republicans say. And unless they start saying things like "I would like to kill minorities," then there is no story.

I'm very confident in Buck. He's running some truly great ads, whereas Bennet is running really poor ads that sound like slanders.

Just as interestingly, in Colorado, where our Republicans have had a real disaster in the governor's race and they're now running two Republicans against the Democrat, one of the Republicans is now within 5 points of the Democrat. That would never have happened in another election cycle.

Tennessee Jed said...

At the risk of betraying a boggers trade secret, it would be fun to know how you put together such an article. e.g. lexus/nexus, notes, subscriptions to permit archival research etc. A well researched piece. Bravo, Andrew.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed! Actually... it was a year of keeping old articles. I keep a lot of notes, and I tend to keep them in groups. So when I started to see the pattern emerge, I watched it for a while and sure enough, it all came together.

Then it was just a matter of watching for more twists. And now that we've come full circle, I figured it was time to write the article because there probably won't be much more coming except a repeat of the circle.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, that's what I love about this election. Someone whose blog I was reading this afternoon (think it was at RCP) said this cycle is like Halley's Comet: you usually only see one like it in your lifetime. Thank goodness I'm on the right side of it (I hope).

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Very true. Although interestingly, I've seen three of these now. The first was in 1994, when the Democrats were doomed because they all voted for Clinton's budget -- but few people saw that one coming.

Everyone knew some of the Democrats were in trouble, but the scope of it was shocking. For one thing, there was little publicly expressed anger because there wasn't really an internet yet. So all you heard was the MSM saying, "everything is fine. . . you are alone in your anger."

The second was in 2008, when the Republicans were doomed no matter what happened. We saw that one coming and it stunk.

Now we have this one. . . and it's pretty sweet. But the question this raises is how can we have two "once in a lifetime" events in a row? That's an interesting question. Are we in a period where the public is simply starting to throw tantrums? Or is this the natural reaction to the debacle the Democrats made of their 2008 victory?

It's impossible to say for sure, but we could literally be standing at the front end of a new age in the political history of our country. I suspect it's a new age, just like the Progressive Era followed the Gilded Age, we have just completed a Second Gilded Age and now we're about to start a new era. . . something relatively populist.

What do you think?

Joel Farnham said...


I don't think or feel it is tantrums although the MSM would love to characterize it as such.

The main thing that has happened this year as opposed to 1994, is the accuracy of getting RINO's during the primary stage and not just allowing an R to go through. This should bring the Republican leadership up short and rethink things. Unfortunately, I fear they still believe that the new guys can be co-opted.

This just means that the Tea Parties will have to continue. And what is also interesting is that the various groups aren't talking about, "Once we get in, then things will go okay!", the Tea Parties are talking about taking decades to fix things. This is the main difference.

Another way of putting it. They take the long view.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, That's the exact attitude that makes me think it is a new era upon us: "the Tea Parties are talking about taking decades to fix things." That's the kind of attitude you see at the beginning of new eras.

In terms of a tantrum, I think the reason many view "this" as a tantrum is that they see the public jumping far left in 2008 and now jumping far right in 2010, which looks a bit like a tantrum... except that I think it was different members of the public.

Obama's 2008 support was a very different segment of the public than the Tea Party support -- it's not like Obama voters suddenly turned on him and joined the Tea Party. So it's not a switch in attitudes, it's a change in who is turning out.

What should worry the Democrats is that there are million more people with Tea Party sympathies compared to those with "benefits sympathies." And from the sound of it, they are now permanently engaged in politics.

What should worry the entire political class is that these people hate the old tricks, which are the only tricks the establishment knows to maintain control.

BevfromNYC said...

Joel: There is a misconception that the Tea Party movement is a reaction to the Democrats and Obama. Of course we don't like the policies of the Democrats, but it is also a reaction to how out of touch our elected officials have become. I keep saying this over and over - The Republicans are in for a rude awakening Jan.1st if they think we're going away.

Trust me, expect the Repubs to turn on us.

StanH said...

The raging liberal media for me, at least when I first started paying attention was Walter Cronkite (I’m not defending the Vietnam war) and his reporting on the Tet Offensive in ’68. I was a little kid but my brother had a couple good friends who were in Vietnam and fought in the offensive. At a party in the mid ‘70s, I was there, and they were talking about Tet, and that was the first time I’d heard how completely the Vietnamese had been defeated in Tet. I was a little counter-culturist- know-it-all, however I began my conversion to conservatism, with glaring omissions like this. Also in ’68 were the Chicago riots at the democratic convention, in retrospect these things in my mind were the unmasking of the liberal press. Then Walter Cronkite in ’80 said that Carter was a smarter man than Reagan, that was it for me with the press, you can’t believe a word they say.

Fast forward to today Bernie Goldberg’s “A Slobbering Love Affair,” and “Bias” are terrific expose’s of just how deep the biases are in the MSM. This needs to change. You can’t be a watchdog of something that you’re a part of, seems a bit of a conflict of interest. Good read Andrew.

Joel Farnham said...


You are exactly right. This is the MAJOR difference from 1994.

Back then, I didn't understand why the Republicans didn't do more and also when Bush got in, why didn't they revisit the "Contract" which got them the control of Congress. The Republicans had the votes and the president. I know better now, and so does the electorate.

I don't like too many what-ifs, but I wonder what the change we would have done for 2006 knowing what we know now and how to effect some changes. A couple of senators losing cinch primaries and we might have a different world.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think the establishment Republicans have already started fighting. Look at the ones like Murkowski in Alaska and Crist in Florida who refused to admit defeat in their primaries -- I see that as a declaration of war. And if it weren't for a guy like DeMint, the whole establishment would be backing them in their independent bids.

And look at the agenda that pays lip service to the Tea Party concerns, but avoids anything substantive -- I see that as evidence that they still don't understand that they can't trick the Tea Party people with rhetoric.

So I think you're right, there will need to be a fight for the party between the establishment and the insurgents. But this time, I really think the insurgents will win because the establishment doesn't understand how to fight them, and none of their old tricks will work.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I think that is the biggest difference between 1994 and 2010 -- last time, the public trusted the Republicans to do what the public wanted. . . now their faith is gone and they're going to do it for themselves.

I also think the public's views have changed somewhat. I think the public is more anti-elitism/
anti-"undeserved"-wealth than they were in 1994.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Stan!

I think those are excellent observations. I remember that it used to be only "the crazies" who said that we didn't really lose the war in Vietnam, we lost the PR war. And then the evidence came out about things like Tet and that the Vietcong were crushed. . . just as Walter declared us the losers. I think that opened a lot of eyes.

My problems with media began during Reagan with the utterly disrespectful way they treated him. And it's only gotten worse over the years as I've learned just how little the MSM really understand and how much they spin what they think they know. . . and how often they are caught lying. It's a real disgrace.

And as you say, this needs to change, or we need to stop treating "the media" as something special. Right now they are nothing more than advertisers for left wing beliefs. They should not be treated as having any sort of watchdog role until that changes.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I'm still focusing on November 2nd. I haven't even allowed myself to think about what might come after that, because it's too much like counting your chickens before they're hatched. When or if Congress is finally in the bag, I'll relax, take a deep breath--and then start worrying about Stage Two.

But since you bring it up, I think the first thing we have to do is keep the GOP leadership in line. I don't know who the new Majority Leader would be, but if it's at all possible to get Mike Pence or Paul Ryan in there instead of someone like Eric Cantor, they should do it. Same goes for Senate: I'm not sure we can oust McConnell in favor of DeMint, but it needs to be tried, I think. That would be the next step. Hope that answers your original question: Yeah, I think this has the potential to be a new age in American politics, if only we don't choke.

Incidentally, James Carville told ABC News today that if the GOP's gain in the House was above the mid-50s (which is kind of on the low end of my expectations at this point), they'll gain 11 seats in the Senate and thus the majority. So there's something to keep in mind. (Oh, and he also said Pelosi could be kicked out of power even if the Dems somehow manage to hold the House.)

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Funny you should mention Pelosi getting kicked out -- that's my article tomorrow morning. . . and you may find it surprising. Feel free to tell me if you disagree!

IF we are in a new era, and I think we are, then the next leadership race actually isn't as important as it seems because these things tend to involve long term changes.

I know that sounds odd, but if the public has really changed the way it thinks, then we are only in the beginning phase and I think it will take time to replace the establishment -- which will either resist and die or get on board asap. I'm thinking 2012 will probably be the first time we'll see Tea Party-related people start to drift into power and it probably won't be for another 2-6 years after that that we will begin to see a permanent shift in party thinking toward the Tea Party philosophy.

In terms of the numbers, I agree that 55 seems to be the low end. I'm still not sold on us getting the majority in the Senate, but I am hopeful.

Ed said...

A second gilded age? I hadn't thought about that, but it makes a lot of sense.

I'm looking forward to the Pelosi article.

T_Rav said...

Hmmm...something to look forward to tomorrow. I'll make sure to check it out.

Honestly, I think what we're going to have to start focusing on soon is the non-political institutions, and have our own version of the Left's Long March. Specifically, I'm thinking of education, which is where all the media types and Democratic leaders get indoctrinated in the first place. We're starting to break the Left's strangehold on the media, but they've still got each new generation in their corner, and it's because of the idiotic things they learn from elementary school up through college. Destroy the ideological monopoly there, and a long-term victory is guaranteed.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I haven't written about this before because I'm not sure how much people want to read a history lesson, but the parallels are amazing, right down to Wall Street scandals bringing an end to the era.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, You'll like it! It's Pelosi-rific! ;-)

I think you're right that there will be/is happening an assault on all institutions. I think you're seeing that with the push for charter schools to end the monopoly of the teacher's unions, with the internet and conservative blogging to end the grip of the MSM, with conservatives challenging liberal churches, and next will come colleges.

I've actually been talking to some people about how to do that and I think the key lies in changing the way student loans work and in getting more active about controlling state boards of education -- usually elected positions. By cutting off the funding and making schools compete more, they will shed these liberal junk departments and focus on things students (i.e. consumers looking for jobs) will demand. That why there is such an attack on "for profit colleges" at the moment -- the left hates those because they circumvent the garbage.

Ed said...

I would be really interested to see you write about that.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I'll think about it. It might make an interesting article after the election.

DUQ said...

If you want media bias just turn on the television or look in the paper. It's so much now you don't even see it anymore.

CrispyRice said...

Interesting stuff, Andrew! Thanks!

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, That's true, it's everywhere these days. And you make a great point that there may be so much that we no longer see the trees for the forest.

AndrewPrice said...

You're welcome Crispy!

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