June 01, 2009

For decades conservative warhorse Reed Irvine churned out his newsletter, Accuracy in Media, giving a reality check to the American prestige press like the New York and LA Times and the Washington Post. He later expanded his investigations to higher education by founding Accuracy in Academia. Its monthly Campus Report, now in its twenty-fourth year, publishes articles on campus outrages, but finds space for positive news as well. This “€œpositive”€ news is often more depressing than the outrages.

In the Campus Report for May, 2009 a brief note entitled “€œMedia Debate on Campus”€ begins “€œHas the debate over whether or not the media are liberal finally hit college campuses? Better late than never. Earlier this year, conservative columnist David Brooks mixed it up with liberal scribe mark Shields at a “€˜sold-out crowd of about 700 at Texas Christian University.”€™”€ The heroic confrontation was recounted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (April 2, 2009) in an article on the April 1 Schieffer Symposium, named after and hosted by TCU alum (1959) Bob Schieffer of CBS News. Gene Trainor of the Star-Telegram reported: “€œAre the news media biased toward President Barack Obama? David Brooks, a conservative columnist for The New York Times, said yes before a sold-out crowd of about 700 at Texas Christian University. Mark Shields, a nationally syndicated liberal columnist, said no.”€

You may wonder how the “€œconservative columnist”€ made his case. According to the Star-Telegram, Brooks said, “€œI think the press is pro-Obama. Most of my colleagues are extremely committed to the craft of journalism. So I think most of the bias is unconscious”€”in framing the issues and what gets paid attention to.”€

“€œThe press is pro-Obama,”€ but “€œthe bias is unconscious,”€ like the zombies described in Bob Hope’s Ghost Breakers. “€œA zombie has no will of his own. You see them sometimes, walking around blindly with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do, not caring.”€ “€œYou mean, like Democrats?”€ Bob asks. Sure, Bob, or like “€œcommitted”€ reporters for the New York Times, according to “€œconservative columnist”€ David Brooks.

On the same day as the Schieffer Symposium, Bill O”€™Reilly devoted his “€œTalking Points”€ memo to allegations that the New York Times had published a generic story on the left-wing connections of the activist group ACORN and spiked a substantive account linking ACORN’s activities directly to the Obama campaign.

The Schieffer Symposium”€˜s bogus debate is typical of U.S. campuses, where university administrators round up the usual suspects, including neocon lackeys like David Brooks, to head off serious discussion. Meanwhile Campus Report applauds this charade as a step in the right direction, although there was no serious discussion of pervasive media bias and no real conservative was allowed within a country mile of the event.

Bob Schieffer summed up his eponymous symposium in these words, “€œI myself think the press has done a pretty good job considering the problems that confront this country.”€
On May 18, Bill O”€™Reilly said, “€œThe New York Times is a dishonest publication in business to promote a far-left point of view.”€ These two positions could be the basis of a real debate, a debate that will not take place, however, as long as Captain Renault’s descendents run America’s universities and Reed Irvine’s epigoni market as “€œconservative”€ David Brooks and his absurd whitewashing of the Times“€™ journalistic malfeasance.


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