Ed Driscoll

Entering The Box Canyon

Hugh Hewitt interviewed CNN’s Ed Henry, who, when asked who he voted for in the 2004 election, hung up rather than respond. As Hugh writes:

This is a box canyon for MSM, and one which the allegedly “objective” reporters hate to enter because they know, going in, there’s no way out. If they admit to voting for Bush, they will be mocked or scorned by their elite media pals who are overwhelmingly on the left and the way left. If they say Kerry, the public gets a marker that matters. if they refuse to answer, they appear like Henry or Hiltzik to be shifty and untrustworthy about a question most Americans presume to be fair and easy to answer, and about which most political Americans are very open –bumper stickers and yard signs and online registries of campaign contributions etc.

But MSM refuses to talk about its collective and deep problem of deep, numerical imbalance in its ranks between left-wingers and everyone else.

This imbalance forces MSM types to cover their ears and hum, pretending not to hear the question or not to see the problem.

Why does Henry refuse to answer a question about the obvious imbalance on a show hosted by Bill Maher and featuring George Mitchell, David Gergen and David Dreier discussing the Alito hearings?

Why not admit that crazy old Jack Cafferty is not just reflexively left but incoherently so?

Because they think this gives the game away?

In fact the denial is far more damning, an indictment not jts of the ideology of the mother ship and the news business generally, but, crucially, of their own untrustworthiness as a reporter.

If a reporter cannot see obvious things or will not comment on the most glaring of facts, how can they be trusted to get any story right?

If they won’t be candid about uncomfortable subjects, why should anyone trust their candor on any subject?

Mr. Henry hadn’t read key cases, didn’t report on key issues such as Teddy’s embrace of a parody as a serious article, didn’t want to judge any charge/counter-charge.

It appears as though he thinks he’s sort of a play-by-play announcer who doesn’t have an opinion of the game underway.

But every great play-by-play announcer does in fact have opinions –thousands of them, in fact, on the judgment and skills of every man or woman on the field. They don’t obviously root for an outcome, but they are experts on the actual events unfolding.

MSM is rooting, for the left, and the public knows it. It refuses to report or opine much of anything that might detract from their hoped for result. Whether incompetence or ideology is the main factor doesn’t matter so much as they undeniable reality that both are at work.

It’s impossible to read all of the events of the 2004 election and not conclude, as Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Evan Thomas did, that the core components of the legacy media have a leftward bias. I actually thought the New York Times did themselves a world of good by coming clean and admitting theirs; it avoids so many embarrassing incidents such as Henry’s.

And it’s a telling response: if reporters or media organizations are accused of racism or homophobia, they’ll move extremely quickly to repair the damage–look at how fast Gene Shalit kowtowed to GLAAD (possibly under pressure from NBC’s lawyers) regarding their perception of his Brokeback Mountain review. This isn’t an attempt to equate bias with either of those issues. But it is telling that the vast majority of attempts to discuss how the media and its reporters are perceived by at least half of their viewing audience are quickly rebuffed or pooh-poohed.

Since the Fox News Channel receives the majority of conservative eyeballs desiring news from their TV sets, this seems like the perfect time for CNN to announce, “Look, if you’re a conservative, you’ve got Fox to watch. We’re the channel for those who didn’t vote for Bush”.

Like the Times’ admission, that would be at least a first step in admitting who your desired viewers are: in targeting your audience, you’ve got to be prepared to lose audience: you can’t be all things to all people, and there’s no point, when my satellite box has 500-odd channels available, in doing so.

Update: Jack Kelly has some related thoughts. (H/T: The Anchoress.)