On Sunday, Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander devoted his column to conservative complaints that the Post was slow to cover the ACORN story. Alexander quoted Pew's Tom Rosenstiel and Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli saying, essentially, that the Post and the media overall is insufficiently attuned to conservative issues and reflects a Democratic viewpoint.
I responded at length that same day, pointing out that if this is the case, you sure couldn't prove it by looking at media coverage of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, the 2000 presidential election, the run-up to the Iraq war, the disparate treatment of Democratic health care proposals and Republican tax cut proposals during the recent presidential primaries, among other examples.
On Monday, Alexander wrote a blog post following up on his column. The post, “Newsroom Diversity Should Include Ideology,” was noteworthy for including not a single word reflecting the point of view of progressive media critics.
Instead, Alexander quoted Rosenstiel again -- this time arguing that the erosion of trust for the media among Democrats is because Democrats are “rooting” for Obama and don't want him “to be criticized in the press” and they feel “anxiety” that “conservative media is having more of an impact.” Neither Rosenstiel nor Alexander so much as hinted at the possibility that liberals and Democrats increasingly distrust the media because the media helped the Bush administration lie the country into an unnecessary war, or because it handed Bush the White House in the first place by relentlessly attacking Al Gore.
And he quoted a former Knight Ridder vice president who “called for newsrooms to do a better job of understanding the claims of bias, especially from conservatives.” (That he did so while ignoring substantive criticism from liberals should be a rather clear sign that the media is more responsive to conservative complaints than Alexander's column and blog post suggest.)
And he quoted two more people claiming that journalism attracts more liberals, forgetting his own recent experience with the fact that personally liberal journalists often produce news reports that favor conservatives.
And at the end of his one-sided blog post that omitted any discussion of progressive media critiques, and omitted any discussion of the possibility that the media is too responsive to conservatives rather than not responsive enough -- a blog post that followed up on a column with the same flaws -- Alexander calls for ideological diversity:
News organizations, once led exclusively by white men, long ago embraced gender and race diversity. It was a matter of equality, of course. But it also was a matter of accuracy. With diversity, newsrooms became more attuned to the perspectives of women and the multicultural dimensions of the communities they served.
It's the same with ideology. News organizations like The Post are more accurate when they are exposed to the range of perspectives among their readers, both print and online.
I couldn't agree more.