Over the past two days, the NYT has published two columns about the Wall Street Journal, both of which question the Murdoch empire’s right-wing bias and predilections. Which are, according to Jim Rutenberg and David Leonhardt, roiling the journalists at the WSJ.
In these columns, I noted a lot of lessons about how newspapers report the news, i.e., facts of life, and how editorial policy–especially Murdoch’s–can omit or distort facts to conform to a political–a/k/a political propaganda–mandate.
Good lessons well told.
First, Jim Rutenberg:
The ties between Rupert Murdoch and President Trump are undeniably close, writes our media columnist. But what does that mean for the press, and the rest of us?
Second, David Leonhardt:
Staff members are right to worry about the paper “shaving off the edges” of some stories.
I disagree with one point Leonhardt makes, basically a robotic self-flagellation I’ve been picking up for years in major news media:
Baker [WSJ editor in chief] believes that most media is hopelessly biased, Journal staffers say. He views his critics as liberal whiners, and his approach as the fair and balanced one.
I happen to agree that liberal bias can be a media problem. On important issues — abortion, education, parenting and religion, to name a few — left-leaning beliefs too often distort coverage. The Journal, and every newspaper, should indeed fight that problem.
And fortunately one of the many comments to this article sharply rebuked Leonhardt, so I don’t have to. Thank you, MKKW! I’ve bolded a couple of his?her? sentences:
WSJ may well need to apologize for having an agenda but not for being conservative.
And stop with the mia culpa of liberal bias, No conservative media outlet apologizes for being conservative.But perhaps they should at least acknowledge it because then the press, oriented to stories that support their right lean, would enlighten their audience by explaining that their views are colored by traditionalism, maintaining existing views and not liking abrupt change in society or politics. That might make it clear that the WSJ chooses stories that support the status quo of business and social order.
And abortion, education, parenting and religion, to name a few, are social issues about choice and freedom. The US Constitution is a liberal social document that codifies liberal thought and openness. Conservative views want to actually dismantle or restrict the fundamental rights the Constitution affords us all. For instance, abortion as legal issue is not about the right or wrong of it but whether the government has the right to tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body. The religious conservative groups are challenging the Constitution.
Journalism at its best is a defender of the Constitution.