The Press

In my article, "The Future Is Not Hopeless," I cite a number of public-opinion polls that demonstrate the public’s aversion to big government and its skepticism toward the ability of politicians to improve their lives. The polls I cited were actually only a few of a great many that have shown the same results over the past decade or two.

And yet, how many times have you read of such polls in the newspaper – or heard anyone on television discussing them? I’ve never seen or heard a single reference to them.

Given the continuing and decisive voting in public-opinion polls for smaller government, you would think that a journalist interviewing one of the many presidential candidates of the past year or so – or one of the debate moderators – would have asked a question along these lines:

Many public-opinion polls have shown that the American people in general would much prefer a government that’s much smaller, does fewer things, and reduces taxes accordingly. Do you agree with that sentiment? And whether or not you agree with it, do you plan if elected to propose an overall reduction in government?

Why have you never heard such a question asked?

In my opinion, it’s because almost no journalist has any interest in reducing government, and in fact most journalists will deliberately ignore any suggestion that people want smaller government.

For years, it was easy to assume that the great majority of reporters and journalists were liberal or pro-Democrat. Now, in recent years there’s been much talk that conservative Republicans dominate talk radio and such TV channels as Fox News and MSNBC.

Both viewpoints are understandable, but I believe they miss the point.

While individual reporters may be Democrats or Republicans and even strongly partial to their chosen parties, the most important characteristic of the press in general is that it is pro-government.

When the Democrats controlled the White House and Congress, conservative reporters like Brit Hume never used their position to point out the failures of government programs. And now that Republicans are riding high, even long-time Democrats like Chris Matthews (who worked for Jimmy Carter, Tip O’Neill, and various Democratic senators) are cheer-leading the war in Iraq and various other Bush programs.

Part of the reason for such sycophancy is, of course, that they don’t want to displease those in power and risk losing access to news and interviews. But it’s also true that most of the people who go into the various communications fields are social reformers at heart. They may disagree among themselves over which reforms they want, but there’s little disagreement with the idea that government is there to do the reforming.

If you have any doubt that the "liberal media" will support George Bush as easily as Bill Clinton, think back to last year. Virtually every TV report on the Iraqi War carried a caption on the screen that said "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Do you think it’s a coincidence that all the networks eschewed such phrases as "War in Iraq" or "The Invasion of Iraq," and happened to light upon the same phrase to describe the war?

Of course not. They simply repeated the phrase that was carefully chosen by the Bush Administration to divert attention from the fact that the U.S. military was invading a country that had neither provoked nor threatened America.

You couldn’t find a more compliant press in communist Romania at the height of the Cold War.

January 3, 2005