Pro-Gore press

Media bias was evident, and so is Christ's command

Issue: "Here we go again," Nov. 11, 2000

By the time this issue of World reaches most of our subscribers we will know who has won this year's presidential race. But as I write this, media powers such as The New York Times-now undercut every day by a sharp new website, www.smartertimes.com-already have lost. That's because liberal media credibility declined further this year. Recently, subscriber Bill Dietz proposed that WORLD give out Tower of Pisa awards to reporters who say they are "objective" but in practice lean far to the left. Good idea, and I'll start by so honoring NBC's Matt Lauer: In response to Al Gore's made-up stories, Mr. Lauer said that the Democratic candidate "maybe exaggerated, maybe a slip of the tongue. Are those things reason enough to keep him out of the White House?" Just as they did eight years ago, liberal journalists so much wanted their own ideological soulmate in the White House that they overlooked deep character flaws. The best source for the specifics on how this happened is the website of the Media Research Center (www.mrc.org). Many liberal reporters are so biased, however, that they instantly dismiss the findings (backed up by ample evidence) of that conservative group. Reporters find it harder to dismiss another website, Kausfiles.com, the silicon home of former Newsweek and New Republic writer Mickey Kaus. Last month, when Al Gore lied about visiting Texas fires, Mr. Kaus set up a test. "If there is an ideologically neutral press cycle," he wrote, we will see "a mini-orgy of Gore-trashing stories, emphasizing the serial, obsessive nature of the fibs." But if the liberal bias theory is true, he added, "The last-straw lie will mysteriously become a next-to-last straw lie. If he lies again, then we'll nail him! That's the ticket!" The results were clear: The Washington Post and other influential newspapers buried the big story about Gore's character. Because of conservative talk show hosts and Internet reporting, however, it did not stay buried. Providentially, those searching for more information now have ways around liberal gatekeepers and agenda-setters, but the overall pattern of bias is nonetheless clear. The campaign also revealed other media inadequacies. The press gave us overall national polls; the headlines were bigger when Mr. Gore was in the lead, and the margin of error seemed to grow when Mr. Bush was in the lead, but so be it. Information about what was happening in the battleground states, however, was harder to come by. With the election coming down to a few key states, printing the overall national stats without state breakdowns was like printing a baseball box score that listed the number of hits each team got but left out what was decisive: the number of runs. I also tired of hearing media complaints about the expected low turnout of voters. Countries with high turnouts also tend to have high involvement of government in daily lives; turnout here will increase if the federal government stops allowing individuals to choose their own doctors, but that's not something to desire. It's sad that there is not more turnout in cities with terrible schools where parents cannot choose their children's teachers, but that's another story. Here's one tiny part of this campaign's story: Because of my colorful leftist past before I became a Christian 24 years ago, and because I helped to develop the concept of compassionate conservatism, several hundred journalists interviewed me. Most were clueless about Christianity. A few fawned to get a story and then flaunted their bigotry. What to do? Some Christians say we should leave the arena, but my own tendency is to stay in, realizing that any irritations we face are infinitesimal compared to what Jesus faced. My wife thinks I scare some journalists: Like them, I'm from a northeast, secular, left-of-center background, so they look at me and tell themselves with dread, "There but for the grace of God go I." Maybe so, but they force me to try to live up to one of the hard passages of the Bible, Christ's injunction in chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." We should not back off from indicting the secular liberal press and providing God-centered alternatives, but we should also talk with and pray for individual reporters. It's hard to be bold when we know a writer is holding a long knife behind his back, but that's what we are called to do. Instead of hating journalists who hate us, we are called to see them as people alleviating their misery by scurrying from one event to the next-and there but for the grace of God go all of us.

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Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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