Saturday, December 17, 2005

News Media Bias Deniers

I recognize that the concept of news media bias is a slippery one and often depends on the eye of the beholder. And yet, and yet . . . sometimes it is so palpable that I have to shake my head. In The American Thinker Thomas Lifson reviews comments by Howell Raines, until very recently the New York Times editor, that pretty make Raines look like a venomous Bush-hating lefty. And they are Raines' own unedited comments. Example:

Behind George W, there are four generations of Bushes and Walkers devoted first to using political networks to pile up and protect personal fortunes and, latterly, to using absolutely any means to gain office, not because they want to do good, but because they are what passes in America for hereditary aristocrats. In sum, Bush stands at the apex of a pyramid of privilege whose history and social significance, given his animosity towards scholarly thought, he almost certainly does not understand.

Here is the big picture, as drawn by the Republican political analyst Kevin Phillips in American Dynasty. Starting in 1850, the Bushes, through alliance with the smarter Walker clan, built up a fortune based on classic robber-baron foundations: railroads, steel, oil, investment banking, armaments and materiel in the world wars. They had ties to the richest families of the industrial age – Rockefeller, Harriman, Brookings. Yet they never adopted the charitable, public-service ethic that developed in those families.

I have very intelligent, well-read friends who insist that the New York Times does not tilt in any particular direction, let alone leftward. Can they read this stuff and think that Raines' views are exceptional inside that organization, and that now that he has left, the paper is objective? Can any honest person deny that?

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