Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thomas Edsall Interview Confirms Bias & Elitist Focus of MSM

Hugh Hewitt's latest Vox Blogoli challenges his readers to comment on a recent interview he had on his radio show with Thomas Edsall, who recently retired as the senior Political Reporter with the Washington Post.

Hugh was impressed with how openly Edsall acknowledged the overwhelming left-of-center bias within the MSM. I must say that I was, too.

One of Hugh's favorite hobbies is baiting MSM types with the "bias" question whenever he interviews them on-air. Most of the time the entertainment value is in hearing the stammering, the denials, the "turning-the-question-back-on-Hugh" and the general obfuscation that ensues when someone is asked, "Have you ever voted for a Republican presidential candidate."

For reasons I can personally identify with (and Hugh won't admit to) I can understand why a reporter would be reluctant to broadcast his personal political and/or religious bias to an audience as large and relatively hostile as Hugh's.

Even so, Hugh does have a point when he states that we all have our personal biases. Why, then, do we try to pretend they aren't really there? Isn't honesty the best policy? Isn't one measure of a person's character how comfortable they are in their own skin and in presenting themselves to others as a genuine, authentic and transparent human being?

The answer to this last question is, of course, and always must be, a "Yes."

In this sense, Thomas Edsall rose above the murky depths of his lesser compatriots by being refreshingly forthright and honest in his answers to Hugh's questions. While this was more astonishing than entertaining it was unique, unusual and rare enough to qualify as a captivating interview.

Edsall not only admitted his own biases (he is a liberal Democrat and an atheist) but also made an honest guess that the Democrat members of the MSM outnumbered Republicans by as many as 15-20:1.

Why the honesty? Well, my guess is that Edsall is, by nature, an honest man and respects others who share that all-too-rare virtue (such as Hewitt).

A second reason may well be that, since he is not longer a "reporter" but a "commentator" the admission of being biased is no longer a liability but actually a necessary part of his future success as a writer for the New Republic.

Whatever the reasons, I found myself liking the man even though I was disappointed in his inability to give a single example of an elected Republican who illustrated the many biting characterizations and libelous criticisms he made of conservative in his recent book, Building Red America.

I was also offended by the way that he kept linking his description of present-day Republicans with George Wallace (he even Freudian-slipped that name in place of George Will's at one point) and David Duke.

I think that Hugh put his finger on the cause of Edsall's skewed view of the average conservative Republican when he asked, "you don't get out much, do you, Mr. Edsall?"

Somehow, I did not get the feeling that Mr. Edsall has visited a conservative Evangelical church service and talked to the sort of people that worship there in a very long time . . . if ever.

In this Edsall is not unlike many of us, whether conservative or liberal, religious or secular, who tend to spend most of our time hanging around people like ourselves, listening to radio stations, watching television stations and reading print media that reflect our own biased views.

What is disappointing, of course, is that a man who has spent his career supposedly reporting on the "pulse of America" is and apparently was so out-of-touch with what can only be called "main street" Americans.

Edsall seemed far too comfortable with his caricatures of conservatives, Republicans and people of faith. It seems inexcusible to me that someone who had attempted to "get the story and get it right" for so many years could have forgotten how important it is to understand all sides of an issue before reporting on it either fairly or accurately.

Sadly, it appears that many of the foundational assumptions that guide Mr. Edsall's political philosophy and world view are based on reasonable guesses based on stereotypes of people he never has made an effort to know personally.

Conclusion? Thomas Edsall is an honest and likeable man who seems completely ignorant of how narrow and bigoted his view of others truly is.

On the one hand, it is sad.

On the other hand, it is frightening.