Oct 22, 2007
Looking for the big 3 of media bias
Every reporter has heard the unfair charge of liberal media bias, and bristled at what many see as a political strategy hatched by the right. Now, with your help, we plan to take a look every week at the three worst Michigan reporters, columnists, commentators and pundits; the Big 3 so to speak. As we have seen from the attacks on Media Matters from people like radio host Rush Limbaugh and TV host Bill O'Reilly, they do not like having a spotlight focused on them.
Charges of media bias have been around a long time, and are hard to pinpoint and to get rid of.
Benjamin Franklin was accused of being biased in 1728 when he wrote an article advocating the printing of more paper money, but failed to mention his own printing company stood to profit by printing that money. At the turn of the 20th Century major cities had multiple daily newspapers, and many of those dailies were published by political party members and even served as the official publication of the party. That slowly began to change as the separation between the newsrooms and the editorial page widened and newspapers adopted strict codes of ethics.
But the charges of so-called liberal media bias really took off during the Republican administration of Richard Nixon when the media was full of negative press reports on the Vietnam War, reflecting the mood of the country. I November 1969, Nixon’s vice-president, Spiro Agnew, made a landmark speech blasting what he labeled the liberal media's opposition to the war. In that speech he uttered the famous line accusing the media of being "nattering nabobs of negativism." Former Nixon aide and presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan wrote in conservative publications in the 1970s that the "the liberal media establishment” reporting on Watergate brought down a president.
The assault on the media has continued ever since. This is where you come in.
Based on an informal survey of many bloggers who write about politics, this is the list of commentators that was suggested, to be whittled down to the Big 3: Nolan Finley, Frank Beckmann, George Weeks. Dawson Bell, Dave Renkiewicz, Tim Skubick, Murray Feldman and Bill Ballenger.
Finley is Editorial Page editor of The Detroit News, and as such he sets the tone for the page. He has been a constant critic of Gov. Jennifer Granholm. His column runs every Sunday. Beckmann hosts a morning radio show on conservative radio station WJR and also writes a column for the Detroit News. He is also a Granholm antagonist.
Weeks was a political columnist for The Detroit News for 22 years before his recent retirement, but now his weekly column is syndicated by Superior Features, running in the Traverse City Record Eagle. For 14 years, Weeks served on the staff of Republican Gov. William G. Milliken in various positions including press secretary.
Bell is a reporter for the Detroit Free Press covering Lansing and politics. Renkiewicz is the host of the “Live with Renk” show on Sunday on conservative talk station WBCK in Battle Creek. Skubick is the host of the long-running political talk show “Off the Record,” and he covers Lansing for various TV and radio stations.
Feldman is the business reporter for Fox TV 2. Ballenger is a former Republican member of the Michigan Senate and House, a noted political pundit and the editor and publisher of “Inside Michigan Politics.”
We want readers' help in picking the top three, and so we are attaching an online poll to choose the winner. We will announce the winner a week from today. Please go to Michigan Messenger to cast your vote.