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May 30, 2005 9:22 pm


Writing History in Crayon



Writing about recent news media scandals, Victor Davis Hanson neatly demonstrates his historical method:
The recent Dan Rather and Newsweek controversies hardly seem connected. But on closer examination, both incidents symbolize what has gone wrong with traditional news organizations.

The old assumption was that opinion media — such as the National Review, The Nation and The New Republic — offer a slant on current events, but that major news outlets, outside of their designated opinion sections, do not.

This commitment to disinterested reporting — and along with it the public's trust in mainstream media — has been shattered in recent years.
It's all here, the entire Hansonian palette. Note the magnificent clarity of the"old assumption"; once, everything was just as we would have wished it to be. The Glorious Past is placed against our own sordid and spoiled day: Prior to Dan Rather, news media offered disinterested reporting, and kept their opinions out of the news sections. (Pause for laughter.) Tradition"has been shattered in recent years."

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Victor Davis Hanson template. You are now released from ever having to read one of his columns again. Past perfection; radicals arrive, stage left; tradition shatters.

Of course, given the presence of figures like Harrison Gray Otis and William Randolph Hearst, it takes a vigorous and calculated blindness to turn the history of American news media into a history of "disinterested reporting." But Hanson is up to that historical blindness, as he proves time and time again. It's how he earns his bread.
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Jonathan Dresner - 6/2/2005

Nice. That goes in my quotation file. Kind of reminds me of the Rabbinic descriptions of the (unlikelihood of the) coming of the Messiah, the legends that the Redeemer would come only when an entire generation lived good lives.


Chris Bray - 6/2/2005

Reminds me of this one:

"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead -- as if innocence had ever been -- and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There never has been. There have been generations which remembered, and generations which forgot; there has never been a generation of whole men and women who lived well for even one day. Yet some have imagined well, with honesty and art, the detail of such a life, and have described it with such grace, that we mistake vision for history, dream for description, and fancy that life has devolved." --

Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Jonathan Dresner - 6/2/2005

"In every age 'the good old days' were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them." -- Brooks Atkinson, Once Around the Sun


Sharon Howard - 6/2/2005

Me neither, and I'm not going to. I have a lot of work to do. But I will say, to put this in a longer/broader perspective (since I've probably read more about the history of 17th and 18th century newspapers than 20th century ones), that it seems to me that as long as there has been a printed news media there have been two conflicting themes in/about it:

1. It is bad for the news to be biased.
2. The news is biased. (Particularly when written by our opponents.)

Read commentators on the news at any time or place; no one ever lives *in* the golden age of fair and unpoliticised (and factually accurate) news reporting. It's always something just around the corner, in memories or (maybe) in hopes for the future. And lambasting one's opponents for their faults (while being considerably less severe on fellow travellers) is an integral part of all this. But historians ought to know just a little better.


Chris Bray - 6/2/2005

Which I wish I'd thought to mention earlier in the day: A Kentucky newspaper's apology for systematically burying and underplaying the Civil Rights Movement in its news pages, back in the golden age of disinterested reporting.

Sorry for the brevity -- more later.


Marc A. Comtois - 6/2/2005

Boy, it's late for me and I apologize for the multiple posts of the same topic. Having never written so much on one post here at HNN, I was unaware that there was a character limit. As such, I had an Addendum that got cut off. Here is is:

My aforementioned JSTOR research revealed that scholarly interest in investigating media biase seems to roughly correlate with the Bray's historically recent claims of disinterest, ie; in the past 30 - 40 years or so. It'd be interesting (for someone else) to see when the rise of media bias investigations ocurred after the media began to publicly aspire to an ideal of disinterst.

Also, I reviewed a few articles, but two were particularly interesting to me:

Albert C. Gunther, "Biased Press or Biased Public? Attitudes Toward Media Coverage of Social Groups," The Public Opinion Quarterly 56, no.2 (1992), 147-167, in which the author theorizes that the political ideology and degree of involvement in an individual may be more predictive of a perception of bias than the media source from which that person gets their news.

Lee Sigelman, "Reporting the News: An Organizational Analysis," The American Journal of Sociology 79, no.1 (1973), 132-151, which studies two make-believe newspapers (one left, one right) and comes up with the theory that bias at a newspaper is organizational and self-fulfilling. The "recruitment, socialization, and control [of a newspaper] are all structured in such a way that they preserve for the reporter the institutional mythology of objective reporting, while they also assure newspaper leaders of favorable attitudes and performances." (p.149)

Finally, ASNE's "Perceived Bias" report is an interesting read.


Marc A. Comtois - 6/2/2005

OK, I got a bit snippy. Mea culpa. But the way Bray used "arrived at" seemed to assume that I was finished considering the topic simply because I was finished with this particular debate. Anyway, water under the bridge. Besides, such negative reinforcement inspired me to put off some reading and tackle this thing.

In looking back, it seems as if perhaps we were talking past each other, of which the fault is probably mostly mine. So, to back up a bit:

Hanson said: "The old assumption was that opinion media — such as the National Review, The Nation and The New Republic — offer a slant on current events, but that major news outlets, outside of their designated opinion sections, do not.

This commitment to disinterested reporting — and along with it the public's trust in mainstream media — has been shattered in recent years."

Bray stated that "The point is that even the posture of disinterest is historically recent."

As such, Bray says that the press' ideal of objectivity is a recent thing and that Hanson has not utilized his historical training properly and has failed to point out that media bias has always existed and that claims of unbias were just that, claims.

Lederer said: "Hanson asserted that an assumption had existed and doesn't anymore." Thus, one way to read the piece is that Hanson is explaining how the press lost their mantle of objectivity, whether or not it was close-to-real or an unattained ideal.

Silbey said: "Hanson assumed that such an assertion existed, and doesn't anymore," which seems to imply that Hanson is flawed in assuming that the press claimed unbias in the first place. However Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post said (in 1981), "The credibility of a newspaper is its most precious asset, and it depends almost entirely on the integrity of its reporters," it would seem that at least some in the business assumed such along with Hanson. (I did do some poking around JSTOR and found a couple interesting articles that indicated to me that the topic of media bias and its source has certainly been a topic of scholarly investigation since the early seventies and was touched upon in the 1960's and '50's).

By dwelling on the original extract pulled from Hanson's piece, I think I went down the wrong path. In fact, after even more review [but still focusing on the first three paragraphs too much], it seemed to me that Bray was taking Hanson to task for an opinion piece he didn't write.

Hanson wrote of how the presumption of the media and the public that the former could be and was unbiased had been undermined. Bray thought Hanson should have also indicated that such an ideal was historically unsupportable. To me, the point of Hanson's piece was to show how the media had forfeited their presumption of unbias and to suggest that they could get it back by becoming less biased again. Bray seemed to think that Hanson was trying to convey the idea that historically the press was unbiased or at least proclaimed so and was believed by the public. Again, to quote Bray, "the posture of disinterest is historically recent."

Perhaps a portion of Hanson's piece not quoted by Bray (which probably what led to my own confusion: though I read the whole piece, I relied heavily on Bray's excerpt-not his fault) points to the heart of the matter:

"Instead, liberals themselves must begin balking at the infusion of their political views in the mainstream media. Once the public again trusts major news outlets to be objective, media bias will no longer be news."

This can be taken to indicate that Hanson is engaging in exactly what Bray accuses him of: that there was some unbiased norm to which the MSM can retreat. However, it can just as easily be taken to mean that the media should make an attempt to try to be unbiased (perhaps by installing big neon signs stating such?) in an attempt, which Hanson indicates would succeed, to persuade the public that they (the press) was again properly disinterested.

After all that, I conclude that:

1) If Hanson's goal is to get the press to get back to some unbiased norm, he is wrong in implying that there actually was such a time in History. To the degree that he uses his resume as an Historian to lend credence to his argument, if that is his argument, then he is off base.

2) If Hanson is saying that the public no longer believes that the media is unbiased, whether it has been shown to be throughout History or not and whether the public was faulty in making such assumptions in the first place, then his charge for them to strive to a standard of (at least) less bias, though not historically supported, can be considered a legitmate suggestion that the media can take to reassure the public of their journalistic veracity, even if it is all a game of smoke and mirrors (though some are apparently serious about it).

In the end, the vagueness, whether intended or not, of Hanson's piece [I think he's been criticized for that before, too...] doesn't make it easy to defend or attack with complete confidence in rhetorical "victory." (


Marc A. Comtois - 6/1/2005

Mr. Bray,
I posted before seeing your latest response. I'm sorry to have wasted your important time. Is it because I refused to explicitly concede the argument? If so, I apologize. I simply am not willing to concede the argument, but as you can see from my last post I am certainly willing to keep it in mind and tuck it away for some future where I can dedicate more time to the endeavor. I also apologize if you feel I didn't give the debate it's full due for its own sake. If so, you are correct, but again, it is because of a litany of other interests and duties of which I won't bore you. Regardless, it is now obvious that, according to you, I fell far short in my attempt to somehow wrap-up my part in the debate. Perhaps a better way would have been to simply say, "I'll consider your points," and leave it at that? I anxiously await your directive as to my proper response.


Marc A. Comtois - 6/1/2005

Your point about assumptions is well taken, but I'm fairly certain that I could find "just a few" historical AND contemporary news reports that don't exhibit overt bias. Perhaps the assumptions of Hanson and I are wrong within a historical context, if not within a contemporary. I don't have the desire to further revise and extend my remarks (I've a History Carnival to read and another to bone up for!). For those who do, this discussion looks to be particularly interesting and germane.


Chris Bray - 6/1/2005

"I will just have to be satisfied with the assumptions that I, my family and many of my friends have always had..."

There it is in a nutshell, ladies and gentlemen. All this discussion to arrive at that. Good to know all this time and energy was completely wasted.


David Silbey - 6/1/2005

"Hanson asserted that an assumption had existed and doesn't anymore."

Hanson assumed that such an assertion existed, and doesn't anymore.


steve heeren - 6/1/2005

i have now read the VDH piece and it is not much more than handwringing (the underlying anxiety is palpable) over the fact that "the masses" (one of those "inflexible" marxist terms - not really) not longer trust the main media and now will take to other sources of news (often on the internet) which fit their current partisan outlook, much like the newspapers of old. i say that's a step forward and one more nail in the coffin of the cult of objectivity.

and, geez, mr. luker, i thought i was using "flexible" Chomskyan categories!


John H. Lederer - 6/1/2005

"And that seems to me to be exactly what Mr. Bray is criticizing in Hanson's article. You are drawing a historical conclusion based not on evidence but on an assumption, about how something "should" should be or should have been."

Hanson asserted that an assumption had existed and doesn't anymore.


David Silbey - 6/1/2005

"I note Mr. Bray has offered more examples in another thread, but it still seems like people are conflating the editorial positions of a newspaper with the actual reporting of news. Hanson is pointing out recent specific instances of news stories being manipulated to support an editorial position. It would seem that what you are saying is that there is and never has been such a thing as unbiased news reporting and that it follows that there never will be. That's fine, but while I don't have the resources and time, nor frankly the will, to spend hours combing through news stories (again, not editorials) looking for hints of possible bias in 1957, I will just have to be satisfied with the assumptions that I, my family and many of my friends have always had: That the news was, is and should be reported in as unbiased a fashion as possible."

And that seems to me to be exactly what Mr. Bray is criticizing in Hanson's article. You are drawing a historical conclusion based not on evidence but on an assumption, about how something "should" should be or should have been. One of things that I would suggest that historians have to be, at our very foundations, is ruthless anytime we come across assumptions informing our work: is the assumption true? Is there evidence for the assumption?


Marc A. Comtois - 6/1/2005

"Do you have evidence for your point? An examination of press behavior in the contemporary past? An analysis of the partisan leanings of reporters in, say, 1957?"

Look, I'd love to take the time away from job and family to really dig in, but I can't. I note Mr. Bray has offered more examples in another thread, but it still seems like people are conflating the editorial positions of a newspaper with the actual reporting of news. Hanson is pointing out recent specific instances of news stories being manipulated to support an editorial position. It would seem that what you are saying is that there is and never has been such a thing as unbiased news reporting and that it follows that there never will be. That's fine, but while I don't have the resources and time, nor frankly the will, to spend hours combing through news stories (again, not editorials) looking for hints of possible bias in 1957, I will just have to be satisfied with the assumptions that I, my family and many of my friends have always had: That the news was, is and should be reported in as unbiased a fashion as possible. With that, I exit, but I'm thankful for the skepticism supplied by the thread. Perhaps someday I'll delve further into my (apparently) blindered assumptions.


Ralph E. Luker - 6/1/2005

Mr. Heeren, Don't you think that it might be useful to have read the VDH piece as your ticket of admission to the discussion and don't you think that it might be possible that the use of inflexible Marxist categories really doesn't illuminate the discussion very much? In other words, the discussion has been about whether there was a time when American journalism paid any more than lip service to an ideal of objectivity. There's considerable evidence that, if anything, the lip service itself is a relatively recent phenomenon and you're suggesting that the lip service is a function of the stages of capitalist development. If it were stages of capitalist development, wouldn't the manifestation need to be something more than mere lip service? There are, after all, all sorts of other potential explanations for something so epiphenomenal.


steve heeren - 6/1/2005

but found the subsequent discussion very interesting and yet, misguided, in a way.

there is no doubt that the US newspapers were openly "partisan" for a long time (perhaps from their beginnings). WR Hearst was a committed socialist in his early days, just like Rupert Murdoch was once a trotskyist. but, at some point in time, (i'm guessing 1900-1920's) it became important ideologically to convince the reading public of the "objectivity" of the news reporting apparatus, thanks, in large measure, to the final ascendance of media monopolies. this was then openly talked about as the "manufacture of consent" already in the 1920's by the likes of Walter Lippmann. So what i'm asking you history buffs to consider is whether the claim of objectively in reporting the news (or, at least, the TWO sides of an issue) doesn't itself hide the already concluded (by the 1920's) monopoly over news production?

in other words, when the transition from competitive capitalism to monopoly capitalism was more or less complete (some historians say by 1907) didn't the news corps. have to put forward a new "objective" face?


Chris Bray - 5/31/2005

And all of those without leaving the house. Anyone who has read American newspapers on microfilm, going back just thirty or forty years, knows that the posture of disinterested reporting is a historically recent dynamic, whatever documents the ASNE was putting out in 1923. (A question: How many newspapers did the ASNE publish?)

Here's a historical list of New Hampshire newspapers. Scroll through, and note the titles: The Daily Independent Democrat, the Dover Daily Republican, the Granite State Democrat, the Laconia Democrat, and on and on and on.

Ask yourself: Do these titles reflect an old assumption that the press is a disinterested observer? (Is that a tough question to answer?)


Chris Bray - 5/31/2005

"For fifteen years Hearst had worried about his Mexican properties, particularly his Babicora ranch. Villa has looted it of cattle. Carranza had raided it. During the Obregon administration there had been a period of quiet, but under Obregon's successor, Plutarco Elias Calles, there was trouble again. The radical Calles, pressing agrarian reforms, had taken several pieces of the ranch and given them to the peons...On November 14, all of Hearst's newspapers began a series of sensational front-page stories, under their traditionally easy-to-read headline type, telling of sinister anti-American plots below the Rio Grande. The revelations were based on the alleged official documents, some of which were published in facsimile. They claimed to expose shoals of conspiracies, some of them sponsored by President Calles himself -- plots to foment a Central American war against the United States, plots to colonize Mexico with hordes of Japanese to aid in the war, plots to further Communism, plots to bribe United States newspaper editors, clergymen, legislators, and others...It turned out that [the documents] had not been verified. Hearst and his men had been guilty of incedible negligence." --

W.A. Swanberg, Citizen Hearst, 467-71.


Chris Bray - 5/31/2005

"So, too, Republican newspapers, essentially [connected] to party organization, lived a precarious existence. Condemned to a tiny readership by poverty and the illiteracy of their constituents (the average weekly circulation of South Carolina's ten Republican newspapers in 1873 barely exceeded 500), and denied advertising by the vast majority of businesses, they depended entirely on government printing contracts and 'political favoritism.'" --

Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 350.


Chris Bray - 5/31/2005

The endorsement of the Herald Tribune for the presidency, 1964:

"For the Presidency: Lynson Johnson. Travail and torment go into those simple words, breaching as they do the political traditions of a long newspaper lifetime...So far as the two candidates are concerned, our inescapable choice -- as a newspaper that was Republican before there was a Republican party, has been Republican ever since, and will remain Republican -- is Lyndon B. Johnson."

(Quoted in Rick Perlstein's Breaking the Consensus, pg 457.)


David Silbey - 5/31/2005

"However, I think we have to analyze this topic within the context of rather more contemporary times, as I believe Hanson was doing as supported to allusions to such relatively "recent" partisan publications as the Nation and National Review and the newsmagazine Newsweek and the CBS TV network."

The problem, of course, is that's an artificial distinction. How "contemporary" should we remain? 1992? 1980? 1968?

"My belief still stands that the press, especially in the mid- late- twentieth century, has portrayed itself as unbiased and the public expected them to be so and believed the same."

Do you have evidence for your point? An examination of press behavior in the contemporary past? An analysis of the partisan leanings of reporters in, say, 1957?


Marc A. Comtois - 5/31/2005

Perhaps before engaging further in debate, the historical epoch of which we speak must be defined. Mr. Silbey's pithy comment regarding the USS Maine is fine (and obvious) and many more such examples can easily be culled from the annals. However, I think we have to analyze this topic within the context of rather more contemporary times, as I believe Hanson was doing as supported to allusions to such relatively "recent" partisan publications as the Nation and National Review and the newsmagazine Newsweek and the CBS TV network. I hesitate to arbitrarily put forward a particular year, but the last half-century or so seems about right.

Mr. Bray very succinctly summed up his general issue with Hanson's History with the comment that "That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Victor Davis Hanson template. . . . Past perfection; radicals arrive, stage left; tradition shatters." As such, this column by Hanson is yet another attempt by Hanson to extol the past at the expense of the present. I simply think that, in this particular case at least, Mr. Bray is off the mark.

My belief still stands that the press, especially in the mid- late- twentieth century, has portrayed itself as unbiased and the public expected them to be so and believed the same. This is no longer so, a point that seems to be tacitly acknowledged by Mr. Bray.

According to Hanson, there was a time in the recent past when the press was, for the most part, unbiased (or at least less biased) in its news reporting than it is now. Mr. Bray thinks Hanson is being a shoddy historian with his too-generic terminology. ("once, everything was just as we would have wished it to be. The Glorious Past is placed against our own sordid and spoiled day.") I don't think we have to read so deeply into Hanson's piece and I'm not exactly sure why Mr. Bray has such an ax to grind with Hanson, though he seems to consistently have him in his sights.

Finally, Mr. Bray is correct in pointing the hazards of always looking at "the good ol' days" or the perils of history versus "preferred rememberance," etc. However, there is as much danger in the reverse. Simply because someone always seems to glorify the past over the present doesn't mean that he is necessarily wrong every time, does it?


David Silbey - 5/31/2005

_You may believe that "the posture of disinterest is historically recent," but my perception is that most people expect to get facts, with no bias, in news reports and that this has been the norm for quite a few decades._

You might ask the Spanish how they felt about the American press coverage of the sinking of the _Maine_


David Silbey - 5/31/2005

_You may believe that "the posture of disinterest is historically recent," but my perception is that most people expect to get facts, with no bias, in news reports and that this has been the norm for quite a few decades._

You might ask the Spanish how they felt about the American press coverage of the sinking of the _Maine_


Chris Bray - 5/31/2005

"The anti-Sinclair press had a stranglehold on virtually every major city; few papers even acknowledged EPIC activities...The San Francisco Chronicle clearly would lead the reactionary charge in the north; the Los Angeles Times in the south...The Chronicle's star political reporter, Earl Behrens, didn't even try to hide his analysis behind thoughtful analysis." -- Greg Mitchell, The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, 225.


Marc A. Comtois - 5/31/2005

NOTE: I posted above before seeing Mr. Lederer's latest.


Marc A. Comtois - 5/31/2005

I think that a distinction has to be made between bias in news stories and the bias that exists on the editorial page. The instances that Hanson points to are those of editorializing-gone-mad under the guise of reporting straight news. Perhaps he can be taken to task for not making this distinction.

You may believe that "the posture of disinterest is historically recent," but my perception is that most people expect to get facts, with no bias, in news reports and that this has been the norm for quite a few decades. Likewise, they are aware of the difference between the news stories and the opinons offered on the editorial page. The media has certainly done nothing to dissuade the public from the ideal of objective journalism.



John H. Lederer - 5/31/2005



The 1923 American Society of Newspaper Editors "Canon of Principles" states, inter alia:
---------------------
III.
....
2. Partisanship, in editorial comment which knowingly departs from the truth, does violence to the best spirit of American journalism; in the news columns it is subversive of a fundamental principle of the profession.
....
IV. SINCERITY, TRUTHFULNESS, ACCURACY: Good faith with the reader is the foundation of all journalism worthy of the name.

1. By every consideration of good faith a newspaper is constrained to be truthful. It is not to be excused for lack of thoroughness or accuracy within its control, or failure to obtain command of these essential qualities.

....



V. IMPARTIALITY: Sound practice makes clear distinction between news reports and expressions of opinion. News reports should be free from opinion or bias of any kind

......
-------------------------------

which would suggest the "posture of disinterest is historically recent" only if you consider 1923 recent.

My egotistical definition of recent history is whether I remember it, which maintains the useful fiction that everything I remember is recent.

see ASNE



Chris Bray - 5/31/2005

Sorry, I haven't had coffee yet. The sentence "The point is not simply that even the posture of disinterest is historically recent" should have read, "The point is not simply that the media has always been biased. The point is that even the posture of disinterest is historically recent."


Chris Bray - 5/31/2005

Whatever you read "assumption" to mean, the fact is that disinterested reporting is not even an old normative goal. For most of its history, the American press has been quite openly party-aligned; there were Republican newspapers and Democratic newspapers. The point is not simply that even the posture of disinterest is historically recent.

And so, if Hanson "is simply pointing out that the conventional wisdom of an unbiased media has been replaced by a new CW that all media is biased in one form or another," he's making a point about a conventional wisdom that misunderstands a very basic factual point about history.


Grant W Jones - 5/31/2005

Opinion pieces are interpretations of current events, which is not the same thing as a straight news story or a historical essay. Reread the title of Bray's entry.

As for my blog post that has you upset, equating Memorial Day with the worship of mindless militarism should offend all Americans of whatever political stripe. Han Koning's article also begins with blatant historical falsehoods that amount to Holocaust denial. Shame on Rick for posting that crap.


Marc A. Comtois - 5/31/2005

Mr. Bray has every right to "Fisk" Hanson's History and he may be right that an uncritical reader will believe that Hanson is harkening back to a time when the media wasn't biased. But I think that the revelation of bias in contemporary media has also brought to the fore the fact that media bias has existed all along.

I don't think Hanson is arguing for some perfect past, as does Bray. Rather, I think he is simply pointing out that the conventional wisdom of an unbiased media has been replaced by a new CW that all media is biased in one form or another, which brings up a much larger question for both journalists AND historians.

To me, the more important question, as alluded to by Mr. Lederer, is this: Can we ever really, truly get to an ideal model of "straight news" or is the best we can hope for a "point/counterpoint" dialogue under the aegis of one organization? We historians have struggled, debated and defended the ideal of "historical truth." Could it be that journalism is about to enter a similar stage?


John H. Lederer - 5/31/2005

a bit differently.

His use of "assumption" suggested to me that he was talking about a normative goal, not perfect reality.

I would agree with him that in recent history (my lifetime) that used to be a more often enunciated and pursued goal than presently. I think most experienced media people would also agree.

The present idea that "teaching is a political act" has an analogue that "journalism is a political act". In addition,the idea that no matter how hard you try, there will always be bias suggests that one ought not waste time trying.






Ralph E. Luker - 5/31/2005

And, while I'm at it, this post by you at your blog is disgraceful. As often as HNN publishes right-wing pieces on its mainpage, it isn't enough for you. You apparently think that it should only publish right-wing pieces. Get a clue! Not everyone agrees with you! They have a right to be heard as well. What kind of totalitarian opponent of freedom of the press and speech are you? And you dare to think of yourself as a patriotic American?!!! Get a grip.


Jonathan Dresner - 5/31/2005

There is a long history of interested reporting, of course, from patriotic self-censorship and cheerleading during wartime to corporate interests. What I find curious and revealing is that Hanson's examples are recent ones, but he excludes Fox from his catalog.....


Ralph E. Luker - 5/31/2005

But, Grant, wouldn't you expect an "opinion piece" to be correct on the facts of a case, just as you indict Walter Duranty for being incorrect on the facts of a case? Does an essay's being an "opinion piece" exempt it from the obligations of factual accuracy?


Grant W Jones - 5/31/2005

Actually, Hanson's was writing an opinion piece not a historical essay. You do know the difference, right?

You may have a point on the media always being bias. Has the N.Y. Times returned Walter Duranty's Pulizer yet? The problem is a mainstream media that postures as "objective," but is not.


Chris Bray - 5/31/2005

Much appreciated. And Polly Esther is way cooler than I am.


Jeff Vanke - 5/31/2005

Chris, I'm not as active a blog reader as some. So only recently has it become clear to me what a coup Ralph managed in having you join Cliopatria. I'm honored to be twice related, insofar as I went to high school with Polly Esther. Jeff

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