Michael Barone has a perceptive analysis of the 2004 election, including the role that media bias played:
Four years ago, I wrote that this was a 49 percent nation. In the 1996, 1998, and 2000 House elections, Republicans led in the popular vote by 49 to 48 or 48.5 percent; the 2000 presidential election was a 48-to-48 percent tie. Americans seemed evenly divided, mainly on cultural and religious lines. In 2002 that changed a bit: Republicans won the House vote 51 to 46 percent while Bush’s job approval hovered around 65 percent.
This year his job rating has hovered around 50 percent or below. He has been the target all year of vicious and biased coverage from old media, many if not most of whose personnel saw their job as removing this scourge from the presidency. The 60 Minutes story about Bush’s Air National Guard service, which was based on obviously forged documents, is only the most egregious example. Old media have headlined violence in Iraq and reported almost nothing about positive developments there; they highlighted the charges of self-promoter Joseph Wilson and spoke nary a word when they were proved bogus; they have given good economic news far less positive coverage, studies show, than they did when Bill Clinton was in office.
Yet the results of this election closely resemble the 2002 House results. Bush beat Kerry 51 to 48 percent; the popular vote for the House appears to be about 51 to 47 percent Republican. Voters knew the stakes–polls showed majorities thought this was an important and consequential election–and both candidates had plenty of opportunity to make their cases.
As Hugh Hewitt writes, “I doubt the MSM will ever regain their position of respect. It is now understood as an extension of the Democratic Party, and a not-very-ethical annex at that”.
Speaking of which, check out this quote by Carole Simpson of ABC News:
“When you tell me, ‘Let the states decide,’ that scares me, okay? I got a little map here [holding sheet of paper] of pre-Civil War free versus slave states. I wish you could see it in color and large. But if you look at it, the red states are all down in the South, and you have the Nebraska Territories, the New Mexico Territories, and the Kansas Territories. But the Pacific Northwest and California were not slave states. The Northeast was not. It looks like the map of 2004.
“And when you say, ‘Let’s let the states decide,’ I remember what the states decided when they had slavery. And the kinds of things that concern me is despite what the President says about tax reform and going after entitlement programs, I think they’re going quickly after social programs despite what he said. I think we’re going to get a rollback on all kinds of things. Affirmative action’s a bad word. Liberal’s a bad word. Gay is a bad word. Diversity, all these words that were perfectly fine words now are these touchstones, these trigger points, and that frightens me. I think he’s going after social issues.”
I guess ABC only wants urban viewers on the coasts tuning in, if that’s what one of their newscasters thinks of her red state audience.
Update: Jeff Brokaw writes that it works both ways:
Of course, John Kerry is from Massachusetts, where they used to burn witches at the stake, but let’s not bring that up. OOOPs …..