From Reporters to Public Opinion Managers

The news media’s transformation from news reporters to public opinion managers is, like progressive education, part of the progressive mission to reeducate the progressively unvirtuous into newthink’s belief system. Have no doubt that journalists are overwhelmingly progressive: a study back in 1992, whose general conclusions have been replicated repeatedly, found that 89 percent of them voted for Bill Clinton, compared to 43 percent of the general population; only 7 percent voted for George H. W. Bush versus 37 percent of the general population.*

An example of the media’s public opinion management is the 1980s homeless crisis. In the 1980s, the nation’s homeless were estimated by network journalists to number as much as five million people* even though the best studies estimated the number to be between 230,000 and 600,000. Stories about homelessness were ubiquitous in the 1980s, and the media consistently laid responsibility at the White House door rather than on the behavior of the homeless themselves.** Robert Lichter of the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs analyzed the media’s handling of the homeless story and concluded that 96% of the sources blamed political or social conditions for homelessness; only 4% blamed other factors, like substance abuse, mental illness, lack of skills or low motivation.*** But in the 1990s, the homeless seemed to magically disappear. In 1988, the New York Times ran 50 stories on the homeless, including five on page one; by 1998, they ran only 10 homeless stories, none of them on the front page.**** As Bernard Goldberg comments in his book Bias, homelessness seemed to begin when Reagan took the oath of office and end when Clinton took over.† Newthinkers believe that most antisocial behavior is caused by society, and they propagated that belief throughout America with their stories about the homeless. Associating the root causes of homelessness with a conservative president was just a bonus.

…in the 1990s, the homeless seemed to magically disappear.

But it’s not just what the media talk about; it’s also what they don’t talk about. Bernard Goldberg points out in his book Arrogance how the media often focuses on race; they continuously point out racial discrimination – as they should when it exists. But they don’t like to discuss other explanations for ethnic inequality and subcultural dysfunction – such as the connection between the lack of fathers and violent behavior in children††, or the link between poverty and personal behavior. William Galston, an assistant to President Clinton, pointed out that to avert poverty, one need only do three things: graduate from high school, get married before having a child, and wait until age 20 before having that child. Incredibly, those who do those three things end up in poverty only 8% of the time; those who don’t wind up poor 79% of the time. A high percentage of African-Americans are poor, and the media prefer to ascribe that to racial discrimination rather than discuss family factors.†††

Enhanced by Zemanta* Bernard Goldberg, Bias, (Perennial, 2003), p.  72.
** Ibid., p. 75.
*** Ibid., p. 75.
**** Ibid., p. 79.
† Ibid., pp. 78-79.
†† Wade F. Horn, Father Facts, (National Fatherhood Institute, 2002), p. 109.
††† Bernard Goldberg, Arrogance, (Warner Books, 2003), pp. 14-15.

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