This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published November 8, 2015 by The Washington Times.
Media bias is less about slanted stories than about what’s covered — or not.
For example, when a Muslim extremist cut off a woman co-worker’s head in Oklahoma City in September 2014, there was minimal coverage. A year later, the media went crazy over a Muslim boy’s suspension in Texas for bringing a clock to school that authorities mistook for a bomb.
The first incident undermined the progressives’ theme of America’s evolution toward seamless “diversity.” The second reinforced the narrative of a racist, nativist America, so they went big. The same with shootings by police.
Or take last Tuesday’s stunning, off-year conservative election victories. The media are spinning a tale of low turnout, vowing that 2016 will be different.
Missing is the subtext of many conservative wins, from Republican Matt Bevin’s upset victory in the Kentucky governor’s race to the GOP’s retention of the Virginia state Senate, to the defeat in Ohio of marijuana legalization and in Houston of a gay/transgender nondiscrimination ballot measure.
How about the ouster of the pro-sanctuary San Francisco sheriff? Pay no attention, folks. There’s nothing to see here.
The progressive media’s “super story” is always about how America is getting over its reactionary past and embracing redistributive economics, alternative lifestyles, multiculturalism, limitless immigration and gun control. Never mind that when citizens actually get a chance to vote, they tend to ignore the cultural elites’ instructions.
Events merit extensive coverage only if they go the progressive way. If you don’t hear much media chatter, that usually means the progressives lost. If you hear a lot, they’ve either won or are denouncing the outcome.
Any speed bumps on the way to the New Age of Equality are treated as outrageous anomalies, not rejections of leftist ideology. The New York Times, which is to progressives what Mao’s “Little Red Book” was to Chinese communists, was furious over the overwhelming 2 to 1 vote of Houstonians against what opponents called the “bathroom bill.” The gender identity component, the critics said, would open women’s restrooms and locker rooms to males who think they are female.
Headlined, “In Houston, Hate Trumped Fairness,” the Times editorial began with this accusation: “Sometime in the near future, a transgender teenager in Texas will attempt suicide — and maybe succeed — because vilifying people for their gender identity remains politically acceptable in America.”
We need to pray that some poor, confused teen doesn’t take a cue from this reckless assertion. The Times editorialists seem positively eager for just such an incident so they can editorialize again about other people’s “hate.”
A subtext ignored by the media was that Houston Mayor Annise Parker had subpoenaed the sermons, notes and e-mails of five pastors who had led opposition to the ordinance. The First Amendment? That’s for pornographers, not men of the cloth.
Speaking of totalitarianism, the Times editorial did find a bright spot in the U.S. Department of Education’s stunning order last week to an Illinois high school to allow a transgender boy, against parents’ wishes, to use the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms — or lose federal funding.
Other than the Times’ loony editorial board, does anyone think America’s Founders had this kind of thing in mind when they wrote the Constitution as a limited set of powers shared by the national and state governments? Sexual politics aside, this speaks volumes about the Obama Administration’s voracious appetite for abusing power.
Getting back to election coverage, suffice to say the real “super story” of American pushback against societal decline was either ignored, downplayed or recast as the work of misguided hicks who could have starred in President Obama’s 2008 crack about rural Pennsylvanians who “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment.”
In Ohio, where pro-marijuana legalization forces spent $20 million and created a mascot named Buddie (a cartoon character based on a pot plant bud), Buckeye State voters burned down the proposed constitutional amendment, 64 to 36 percent. Proponents complained that the wording had confused the voters. In Kentucky, Tea Party favorite Matt Bevin, who trailed Democrat Jack Conway in election eve polls by five points in the governor’s race, confounded not only the pundits but Establishment Republicans who darkly warned GOP candidates to stay away from social issues.
Mr. Bevin ignored them, and even visited jailed county clerk Kim Davis, who had refused to ignore Kentucky law and issue same-sex marriage licenses. Mr. Bevin’s ad campaign hammered Obamacare and tied his opponent to President Obama, who is as popular in coal country as a cave-in. But the religious liberty issue, as in Houston, was a major concern the media suppressed.
In Virginia, an anti-gun group founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent $700,000 in a failed attempt to gain an open Richmond area Senate seat. Incumbent conservatives such as Dick Black and Bob Marshall also defeated Democrats, preserving GOP control of the Senate.
Finally, even in San Francisco, voters fired pro-sanctuary Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. The sheriff had a record of bungling, but he was best known as chief law enforcement officer in a city where an American woman, Kate Steinle, was gunned down by an illegal immigrant criminal who had been turned loose.
Across America, voters dealt the elites and the media some stinging losses.
But don’t expect them to alter the narrative. They’ll report some of the news, but only in a manner that advances the progressive “super story.”