Regularly receiving the back of the liberal media’s hand, conservatives also receive their backhanded compliment. Unable to rehabilitate the left, liberal media must seek to debilitate the right. So unsuccessful have they been, they see their effort against conservatives is not just one of enmity, but necessity.
The Washington Post’s first Sunday headline read: “Party of law and order picks defiance.” The headline next to it stated: “At FBI, fears of lasting damage.” Thus was verdict rendered on the intricately interwoven story of the FBI’s role in an increasingly questionable investigation.
The same newspaper that has an Oscar-nominated movie in theaters about its role in leaking the Pentagon Papers and preens over Watergate has effectively told its readership: “Move along, nothing to see here.”
The same thing could be said for the liberal media overall. When investigations are aimed at conservatives, the liberal media could not be more interested. When these are being called for by conservatives, they cannot be bothered. Liberal media bias against conservatives is not new; it is worse.
As certain as sunrise, liberal media will not forego identifying conservative groups as “conservatives” when reporting. However similar treatment to liberal groups is frequently avoided. The effect implicitly shapes perceptions: Labeled conservatives appear biased, but unidentified liberals are passed off as mainstream.
Of course the liberal media meticulously apply this same treatment to themselves. By denying their liberal bias, they seek to pass themselves off as the “mainstream media,” which they decidedly are not — except as it applies to their dominance of the media.
Often the liberal media makes their implicit goal explicit too. Stories featuring conservatives often affix negatives — “far” right or “hardcore” — in case the audience might miss more subtle packaging. Again, if identified as “liberal,” they do not associate such groups with pejoratives which would make them appear extreme.
In both cases, the goal is the same: Discredit conservative views and make them look as far from political center as possible. Conversely: Make the left appear as close to ideological center as possible. Such treatment does more than simply make conservatives unacceptable, it makes the audience feel they themselves are more closely associated to liberals — even when they are not.
Hidden as an unintended compliment within such ill-treatment, one exists. The liberal media are admitting by default that “liberal” and “left” still have negative connotations to the vast majority of Americans. Were these positives, liberal media would assuredly affix them gladly — instead of working hard to avoid them.
Similarly, if “conservative” were likewise seen askance by America’s majority, liberal media would not have to frequently make them appear extreme.
If there be any doubt, take note how few liberals willingly self-identify as “the left” — especially the great majority of America’s media establishment. Conservatives have no such compunction.
These outcomes must confound the liberal media. By this point, it is unnecessary to highlight the means of their bias. Regardless of how measured — coverage, content, even the ideological affiliations of its members — all confirm it.
This bias amounts to subliminal advertising. It must have had some effect, considering its long duration and single direction. Liberal numbers must be higher — and conservative numbers lower — than they would otherwise be. Even so, it has been inadequate for the liberal media’s purpose.
The numerical gap between left and right in America remains startlingly large. According to 2016 presidential election exit polling, liberals accounted for just 26 percent of voters, easily the smallest of the three ideological groups. Conservatives were 35 percent and moderates, 39 percent.
Considering Obama, America’s most liberal president, had been in office for eight years, 2016 should have been a high-water mark for liberals. Yet how far their distance is from majority is striking.
To reach a majority, liberals need to roughly double their percent of America’s population. Contrastingly, conservatives need to increase their total by less than 50 percent to do so.
Getting there through moderates — the ideological group through which liberals and conservatives must build majorities — the left’s task is steep. To reach majority, liberals must get 64 percent of moderate support. In contrast, conservatives need just 41 percent.
Liberal media have their work cut out for them. Despite their attempted filling, liberals remain in a deep hole. Despite their attempts to bury conservatives, they cannot. The liberal media’s efforts on behalf of their brethren are, in their mind, not just a case of empathy, but necessity.
Where would the left be without their support? And where would the right be with anything approaching even-handed coverage? The obvious answer: America’s left would be an even smaller minority.
It has been said that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. That sentiment confirms the liberal media’s back-handed compliment to conservatives. If there is anything liberal media would love more than the left, it would be to ignore the right completely. However, they know they cannot afford to.
J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987-2000.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.