Wednesday, August 31, 2005
On the media: Over at Radioblogger.com there is a transcript of an interview between the Los Angeles Times' Tim Rutten and talk show host Hugh Hewitt. The occassion for the interview was an article Rutten was working on for last week's paper.
For those who are unfamiliar with Hewitt's show, he has a policy of recording any interview he gives to any reporter -- though he is considerate enough to delay the broadcast until the article has run.
Rutten's article itself is of minimal interest, what is interesting is the transcript and Hewitt's questioning of Rutten on the issue of media bias.
HH: No. I'm saying that you guys don't realize the problem of how deep your bias is. You don't see it. And that when ten thousand plus people cancel their subscriptions because they see it, you reject their critique as being emotional, or ill-considered, or something, as opposed to the marketplace, and the wisdom of the many, to quote the chairman of Sony. And when a George Will syndicated column is altered by your editorial page editor, to remove the name of one of his (Bill Clinton's) accusers, and people go ballistic, you folks, you know, you rush out an apology a few days later, and you say you're sorry. But it never occurred to that individual, or any of the people in the heirarchy, that that would be wrong to do, because, well, everybody knows that Broderick, Juanita Broderick was a liar. Everyone knows that. And so, that's the...
TR: I'm never more suspicious than when I hear the phrase everybody knows. I've never...my brows never rise higher than when I hear that phrase.
HH: Then how could her...that's one specific thing we should end on. How could an editor at the L.A. Times erase from a George Will column, the name of Juanita Broderick?
TR: I haven't the faintest idea.
HH: It did happen. You're aware of it?
TR: No, I'm aware of that. Yeah.
HH: And so, doesn't...
TR: Hey, you know what? There are millions upon millions of individual decisions that go into the production of a newspaper every day. It's a miracle that more of them aren't wrong.
HH: Especially since everyone making them is a liberal.
TR: No, particularly...No, because they're all humans.
Okay, they're all liberal humans -- or most of them, at least. Look, Rutten can deny it all he wants, but I work 40 hours a week at what is considered a "conservative" newspaper -- it's not. I have little doubt that the Los Angeles Times is any different. I've worked with journalists for more than a decade. I've worked at four different newspapers. I can count the number of conservatives I've worked with on my fingers and toes -- with a few left over.
HH: Anyone other than the New York Times more liberal than you guys?
TR: Uh, more liberal? More liberal. You mean, as far as the staff goes?
TR: I don't find the staff that liberal.
HH: But again, Tim...
TR: They seem sort of moderate, you know, middle of the road people to me. They're sort of unrelentingly bourgeois.
Allow me to translate: Most newsroom employees are classic, somewhat sane liberals. They aren't Krazy Kos Kidz or denizens of the Democratic Underground. However, they certainly aren't "moderate" either. They're left of center -- it's only when you've got so many crowding on the left side of the scale that a liberal appears moderate.