Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 6/27/14
Our word today is, “penumbra.” Webster defines it as follows:
…a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light
We offer this vocabulary lesson because it is a fact that the ongoing debate about liberal media bias occurs mostly in a penumbra. The subject is discussed in that area between bright, all-revealing light where everything can be seen clearly; and total darkness where nothing can be seen at all.
In that murkiness the arguments are mostly subjective, with neither side able to conclusively make its case.
But light penetrates and the shadows brighten whenever a big scandal arises – and one has.
Purely for the mental exercise, let’s imagine that during the presidency of George W. Bush it came to light that the IRS singled out MoveOn.org or Planned Parenthood or some other liberal group for special scrutiny. Let’s imagine press secretary Ari Fleischer saying to the media that the story is a simple case of low-level IRS employees in Cincinnati gone rogue — an assertion that would be forthwith debunked.
Then imagine if Dubya were to express outrage and pledge a full investigation, only to later say in an interview on Super Bowl Sunday that there wasn’t even a “smidgen of corruption” at the IRS.
Imagine the central figure in the story, some Republican administration analogue to IRS executive Lois Lerner, appearing before a Congressional committee and taking the fifth.
Then imagine that very specific emails from that central figure were to suddenly — and with absolutely impeccable timing — go missing.
Don’t you then imagine that the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN would have completely flipped out? Can you imagine any circumstance under which they would not have become positively incandescent?
In my imaginings, they would have done more than cover the story. They would have obsessed over it.
Every front page for days on end would have had a new angle on the story. The TV stand-ups on the White House north lawn would have been about nothing else. Ari Fleischer would have been under siege at every daily White House press briefing. The Sunday chat shows would have been totally given over. One can imagine a prime-time news special.
Yet none of that has happened – a fact that serves as bright, very specular and harshly revealing illumination upon the usually murky media bias debate.
A colleague of mine attributes the media’s disinterest in the IRS scandal to the fact that newsrooms have been decimated by budget cuts and personnel reductions. He’s not wrong about that but his conclusion concerning it is.
When they find a story that fits their world view, the remaining mainstream media practitioners, fewer though they are, nevertheless find a way. For evidence, I would direct my pal to the day-after-day-after-day front pages of the New York Times and the daily first segment-stories on the network news shows during the hot days of the Chris Christie – George Washington Bridge kerfuffle.
The members of the eastern media tribe may yet – against their instincts – have to cover this story. But the fact that they haven’t done so in any meaningful way so far at least does us the service of clearing up any doubt as to the reality of liberal media bias.