Liberal media? Yes, say some journalists

I caught this news via a tweet from Mark Hemingway, half of the former GetReligion power couple (side note: We miss you, Mollie!):

Methinks that the “BREAKING!” nature of that Twitter post was an editorial comment on the part of Mark, a senior writer at the conservative Weekly Standard.

“New” news or not, the Politico article to which Mark linked probably will interest many GetReligion readers.

Let’s start at the top:

Top journalists from The New York Times, NBC News and CNN acknowledged Wednesday that, generally speaking, the national media have a liberal bias.

On a Playbook Breakfast panel, the Times’ Peter Baker and Mark Leibovich, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell and CNN’s Jake Tapper all said “yes” when asked if the news media lean left — though all agreed it was a nuanced issue having more to do with journalists’ life experiences than with any particular agenda.

“Most of my colleagues, I have no idea what their politics are. … But think about it: I live in northwest Washington, none of my neighbors are evangelical Christians, I don’t know a lot of people in my kid’s preschool who are pro-life,” Leibovich said. “When you have conversations, at all the newspapers I’ve worked at, about politics — it doesn’t happen often — but you see clues that there is absolutely a left-wing bias.”

The Daily Caller, meanwhile, poked fun at the question of whether the media lean left:

Maybe a better question: Do ducks quack?

The idea that reporters don’t know any evangelicals, of course, isn’t all that shocking either, especially given what The New York Times’ Michael Luo said in a Christianity Today interview that we highlighted last week:

Many Christians consider The New York Times hostile toward evangelical faith. Is that a fair assessment?

Most evangelicals — and non-evangelicals — would be surprised by the lengths that reporters and editors go to fairly report the news. We agonize almost daily over individual sentences, even phrases, in articles and headlines, web summary lines and captions, to make sure they are fair and unbiased. Do we always succeed? No, but the effort is almost always there.

On the other hand, sometimes you can’t know what you don’t know. A lot of reporters and editors at The Times don’t know any evangelicals, have never set foot in a church, and have worldviews that are far removed from evangelicals’. … They might not know that evangelical is a theological orientation, not necessarily a political one; that there’s a difference between fundamentalism and evangelicalism; that plenty of evangelicals do not believe the earth was created in six 24-hour days; that not all evangelicals believe in the Rapture. Ignorance can lead to inaccurate and misleading characterizations. And yes, it can lead to bias seeping through in the way Christians are depicted.

Back to the Politico article: It’s not a long piece, so I better resist the urge to copy and paste whole thing. But be sure to read it all because it contains other references to faith. Then come back here for the class assignment.

OK, is everybody back?

The Politico article prompted this tweet, which I found humorous, from one Southern Baptist:

For those unfamiliar with the term, friendship evangelism basically involves an evangelical believer befriending a non-believer in hopes of leading that person to Christian faith.

Here’s my question for GetReligion readers, particularly evangelicals: Do you personally know journalists who work for mainstream news organizations? If so, has your acquaintance or friendship with them broadened your — or their — horizons?

As always, folks, this is a journalism website, so please keep comments focused on media coverage issues.

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Martin Snigg

    Rod Dreher’s ‘The Godless Party’ would be a good read as complement to this self revelation.

    Chrisitians generally speaking, by being outside, by being in direct conflict with narrow plutocratic secularism (established ersatz religion) – know everything about their ideogical enemies, are much more capable of placing themselves imaginatively and conceptually in their opponents shoes. Liberal journalists on the other hand know nothing about the http://www.kirkcenter.org/index.php/detail/ten-conservative-principles/ side, having been explicitly educated out of their natural conservatism. As such they now know v.little about the cult of their own civilisation, and hold instead an anti-cult[Rieff] – had their memories lobotmised somewhat in the way Rieff describes in ‘The Triumph of the Therapeutic’. Through organisational self selection are now a reviled disconnected meritocratic[sic] insensate elite. ‘Spiritually buried’ and of anyone the least fit to put their hand up to fulfil a vocation to journalism.

    As proof of their function as mere dogmatic propagandists to Power see Mollie here http://thefederalist.com/2013/12/18/overt-media-censorship-pro-life-views/

    These people need to understand what this means. The industrial state subsidised mass murder of infants MUST be censored, the brutal shadow of the sexual revolution must be kept out of consciousness. The edifice of the liberal establishment stands of the incinerated corpses of our own baby girls and boys, demographically threatens the fiscal, legal, civil unity of their own country but what is most important to them is ‘to keep things going’.

    “Abortion is not just one feature of today’s progressive authoritarianism, it is its quintessence, the mark of the beast – the ritual sacrifice with which everyone is to be forced into complicity, their moral revulsion notwithstanding.” Gil Bailie

    Their entire productive adult careers have been of negative value, it would have ‘been better that he had never been born’. ‘those not for me are against me, if you do not gather you are scattering’.

    Tracey Rowland ABC Religion and Ethics Feb 27,2013:

    “The problem, of course, is that the average journalist has no
    anthropology, no conceptual framework within which to make sense of
    fundamental ideas like the will, goodness, truth and so on. Hence, the
    low level of education of print journalists makes it very difficult for
    world leaders to communicate anything more than shallow sound-bites –
    this is a problem that dogged Benedict throughout his papacy, and
    remains an issue for any deep thinking world leader.”

    Preface to 1987 reprint ‘The Triumph of the Therapeutic’, and intellectual father of the later Christopher Lasch, Philip Rieff:

    The Therapeutic is the symbolic truth of the present age.
    He is an . . an assault, more and more successful, upon all sacred barriers.
    Thosehigh barriers broken down, the therapeutic politicised, bursts into
    no free space, and into no broad daylight. Rather to his constant
    suprise, he finds himself buried incredibly deep in a night he never
    consciously desired. From this burial, the therapeutic may yet find a
    way up to the higher life. Anyway I do so hope, for the sake and
    souls of those who make it inside one of the levelling elites than
    for those who remain in the spiritual safety, however deadly
    dangerous politically and therefore bodily, of being outsiders.

  • Darren Blair

    I actually work for a mainstream news organization, so do I count?

    I’ve known of only *one* person at the paper who was overtly liberal in his political views, such that he raised quite the fuss when the Texas legislature passed the law concerning sonograms. Said person has since left the paper, and things have settled down quite nicely since.

    • PalaceGuard

      William James to the contrary, one white crow does not prove that all other crows are not black.

      • Darren Blair

        I’m just saying that I’ve only known of one person who was open about being liberal. There are no doubt others, but he was the only one to ever say anything.

        • tmatt

          The key is the meaning of LIBERAL. What issues? I have known lots of GOP folks in newsrooms — but all of the libertarian types or social “moderates.” As NYTs editor Bill Keller once confessed, the key is that media elite is liberal on moral and cultural issues. In other words, religion. And not SECULAR, but vaguely religiously liberal in many cases.

  • OrdinaryCitizen

    ‘Lean left?’ Try ‘leap left.’ Saying that the media is Left is akin to saying that the arctic circle is cold.

  • PalaceGuard

    “Most evangelicals — and non-evangelicals — would be surprised by the lengths that reporters and editors go to fairly report the news.” So, then, it’s even worse than we thought it is?


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