I do love journalism. It’s my chosen profession. And despite the condemnation on the right of the mainstream media, I think many regular reporters do excellent work.
But a liberal bias exists. And conservatives are right to be angry about it, and their hostility to the press is understandable. While most reporters I know try to surpress their political opinions and do honest work, the bias seeps out.
Often, it’s in the selection of stories.
If a Republican blocks or gets rid of a government regulation, you will see lots of copy about how it will harm people or the environment. If a Democrat establishes a new regulation, you need to look hard for articles about jobs lost or the adverse effects on business.
And sometimes, mainstream reporters don’t even seem to try to surpress their viewpoint.
How else to explain this article by Washington Post reporter Michael Fletcher about Texas Gov. Rick Perry, which appeared yesterday at the top of the Post website, It starts with a premise that is demonstrably untrue – that “much” of the employment growth in Texas under Rick Perry is due to government jobs – and cherry picks misleading evidence to support this false notion.
This is the type of thing Republicans will be up against during the campaign. Usually it will be less ham-handed.
Take a look at the first few paragraphs of the story.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has leapfrogged to the top tier of Republican presidential candidates largely on the strength of one compelling fact: During more than a decade as governor, his state created more than 1 million jobs, while the nation as a whole lost 1.4 million jobs.
Perry says the “Texas miracle” rests on conservative pillars that he would bring to the White House: minimal regulation and government, low taxes and a determination to limit the reach of Uncle Sam.
What he does not say is that much of that job growth has come because of government, not in spite of it.
With a young and fast-growing population, a large and expanding military presence and an influx of federal stimulus money, the number of government jobs in Texas has grown at more than double the rate of private-sector employment during Perry’s tenure.
What is left out here is that about 300,000 of the more than 1 million jobs created under Perry – less than a third – are government jobs. And a significant number of these were established to service the people who were migrating into the state because of all the private sector jobs being created.
THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER WHICH LESS THAN ONE THIRD CAN BE CHARACTERIZED AS “MUCH” OF A TOTAL. It’s not “much” of it. It’s some of it. Except if you are trying to create a dramatic headline, or you are biased against your subject because they are Republican, or both.
It may be true that government jobs in Texas grew at a faster rate. But that’s starting from a smaller number. Including this phrase about percentages without also giving the raw numbers suggests that the reporter is disingenuously trying to back up his erroneous statement that “much” of the job growth is due to government jobs.
Even the Washington Post’s own graphic helps puts the lie to the story. It shows that during Perry’s 11 years in office, private sector jobs grew nine percent in Texas, while employment in the nation overall declined by 2 percent. That suggests a very robust private sector jobs picture in Texas.
The first analyst cited in the article by Fletcher, from the Texas-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, calls public sector employment “an ongoing driver of our job growth.” Fletcher describes the CPPP as a “a research and advocacy group in Austin.” Sounds benign, but it’s not hard to see where the group is actually coming from.
It’s run by F. Scott McGowan, who has recently penned articles supporting Obamacare and saying what a terrible mistake it was for Perry to cut taxes by $10 billion in 2006. His number two is Anne Dunkelberg, whose “activities and interests” on her Facebook page include “Barack Obama,” “Telling Dick Cheney to Shut the Hell Up,” and ” Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck?”
Reporters in Washington often shake their heads at things like conservative talk radio and Fox News. What they don’t realize is that, THEY created the conservative media, which grew up in response to articles like this one.
Those overtly biased conservative outlets will balance the less obvious but ultimately more pernicious bias – since it emerges from beneath claims of neutrality – of a mainstream media that overwhelmingly sympathizes with the goals and ideology of President Obama.