"Top journalists from The New York Times, NBC News and CNN acknowledged Wednesday that, generally speaking, the national media has a liberal bias," Politico's media reporter Dylan Byers noted in a December 18 post recapping a Politico Playbook breakfast discussion held earlier on Wednesday morning.
More than one panelist opined that it's not just that journalists tend to be liberal on policy questions but that they live and work in environments which are socially liberal. "I live in northwest Washington, none of my neighbors are evangelical Christians [and] I don't know a lot of people in my kid's preschool who are pro-life," New York Times writer Mark Leibovich noted. Fellow Washington, D.C.-based journalist Jake Tapper picked up on that thread:
A certain type of person becomes a reporter, and generally speaking... the kind of person who is a reporter in Washington, D.C., or New York City has never worked a minimum-wage job outside of high-school... has never experienced poverty, is not an evangelical Christian, like much of the country is.
There are a lot of experiences that the kinds of people who are reporters, editors, producers, etc., in Washington, D.C., and New York City have not had.
Of course, Tapper added in defense of his brethren in the industry, despite the lack of diversity in the newsroom, rank-and-file reporters really do want to be fair and balanced:
I think there is an awareness of that [lack of diversity of life experience], and when there is an awareness of it is when the best journalism can happen, because people are aware of the country that they're writing for, the country that they're on TV for...
I would put a lot more on the editors and the senior producers than I would put on the day-to-day reporters. But you don't see a lot of coverage of poverty, you don't see a lot of coverage of troops, you don't see a lot of coverage of faith. It's simplistic to say it's liberal or conservative. It's about experiences and lifestyle and there needs to be more of getting outside our comfort zone.
After Tapper said his piece, New York Times writer Peter Baker chimed in, saying that he has evangelical Christians in his extended family, suggesting that he, at least, is not oblivious to the perspectives they tend to have. Baker did, however, argue that bias for "conflict" was more salient to journalists than their liberal media biases, a typical defense waged by liberal journalists. After all, here at NewsBusters, we've documented time and again how the media ignore stories of conflict which paint liberals in a negative light.
All in all, however, it's progress to see prominent journalists admitting a slant in the newsroom. I would submit, however, it's not enough for liberal journalists to attempt to be fair and balanced. A commitment to hiring conservative and libertarian journalists to mix things up a bit can help immensely in challenging the political and cultural groupthink that exists in the major media outlets.
To watch the full panel segment, click play on the embed below: