In his Reliable Sources newsletter on Thursday night, CNN's Brian Stelter ripped Laura Ingraham for attacking the media's sympathetic focus on government workers during the shutdown. "Ingraham plays a media critic on TV, but what do actual media critics think?" That's a pretty weird attack from a guy who plays a media critic on TV. He turned to liberal defenders of bureaucrat-heavy shutdown coverage. Stelter implied that there are no conservatives who have an "actual" beef with the media's liberal bias during the shutdown.
Stelter resumed his attack on Ingraham on his very one-sided Reliable Sources TV show on Sunday, playing a clip from her Wednesday night monologue: “Their latest tactic — and we’re going to see more of it in the coming days — is to re-feature the sob stories of government workers, who by the way, have not missed a paycheck,” she said. "Rank emotional manipulation. Pure propaganda.”
Stelter then replied "Give me a break, Laura! Look, there are obviously many real-world effects of the shutdown affecting many Americans. We can show a scroll from CNN.com — 77 different real-world effects listed on CNN.com.” Ingraham wasn't denying there were real-world effects (or anxieties). She said the networks were hyping them for political effect.
The CNN host then turned to liberal journalist Indira Lakshmanan -- just as he did in his Thursday newsletter -- to offer an opposing viewpoint to conservatives. “What's your reaction a right-wing critic saying these are just sob stories?”
“It’s pretty insensitive and also lacking in knowledge on her part,” the Boston Globe reporter-turned-columnist noted. “I don’t know what she’s talking about saying the people haven’t missed a paycheck.” Stelter "clarified" Ingraham said this on Thursday (actually, Wednesday) when many workers hadn’t technically missed a paycheck yet.
Lashmanan continued: “It's ridiculous. The issue, and I think the media has done a really good job on this, at least the national news media has, I think, covered you know, not only real-world stories because these are human stories, we have to talk about the 800,000 federal workers who are working without pay or not working at all,” she continued. “It’s not a vacation that they want to be on.”
A conservative could have told Stelter that there was a beef with loading your "news" with anedcotes of impending suffering by federal workers. If the shutdown had ended before any missed paychecks, nearly every one of those stories jumped the gun. CNN read tweets from angry (liberal) government workers with no apparent attempt to verify the "sob stories" they told about returning Christmas presents. Even the implausibly manipulative stories weren't checked, like CNN letting a union president cite a man whose wife died and now he can't afford a tombstone ....because of a paycheck that hadn't been suspended yet.
Bias by story selection (or often, victim selection) was Ingraham's point (and ours). The victims in the immigration debate are rarely those victimized by criminal aliens. They're usually illegal immigrants in danger of deportation, cast in the most positive terms. It's easy for liberal reporters to feel the pain of government workers well in advance of any actual pain, and it's also easy for them to blame it on conservatives, who they claim "hate government" any way. All of that aggressive framing is....liberal bias.