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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Conservative Media Bias Surfaces Even at WaPo

At HuffPo, Jonathan Weiler, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Global Studies, UNC Chapel Hill, has a well-written blistering of a largely one-sided WaPo report on extremism in North Carolina. As Weller explains:

The all-too-frequent failure of political media to report accurately and with appropriate context is an ongoing disaster for our country. Among the adverse consequences of this failure is that political media aid and abet Republican extremism by softening its razor sharp edges and by bending over backwards to lend it respectability and legitimacy even when doing so requires distorting basic facts, apparently driven by the conviction that providing context and independent analysis might smack of liberal bias. The Washington Post this weekend offered a particularly dismaying entry in this regard in an article on the extraordinary developments in North Carolina. The article does note that since Pat McCrory took over the governor’s mansion in January, the state GOP has pushed North Carolina “hard to the right.” The ongoing legislative session in Raleigh has been a master class in venality, spite and contempt, resulting in, among many other things, the rejection of Medicaid expansion — thus denying half a million North Carolinians health insurance; extreme attacks on voting rights; proposals that would result in an historic shift in the tax burden away from the wealthy and toward the middle class and the poor; massive cuts in education to the university system, K-12 education and pre-K; and efforts to gut environmental regulations.
Author Michael Fletcher noted some of these proposed cuts, but repeatedly gave Republicans a platform to justify their proposals, while providing none for their Democratic opponents in state government nor offering any independent scrutiny of their claims…Fletcher offers not a single factual rebuttal to Republican claims in the article, despite the ample evidence that the premises behind key policy proposals are false or contradictory or both. Nor does he quote a single state Democratic lawmaker in the article opposing the Republican agenda. Surely a Washington Post reporter would have the access necessary to find one Democrat in the legislature who would go on the record. And surely he or a research assistant could spend a few minutes examining whether the claims he does quote stand up to scrutiny — in other words, to be something other than a stenographer. North Carolina Republicans have launched an all out attack on the less well off, apparently concerned only with the welfare of the already well-to-do. Their job is made easier by work like Fletcher’s on Saturday. This is shoddy journalism, as likely to obscure as to inform people about the true state of affairs in North Carolina, serving among other things to paper over the excesses of a broadly unpopular agenda — from taxes, to guns, to environmental protection to cuts in education and more…

As Weller concludes, “When, for the love of all that is decent and fair, are we going to drop the canard about a liberal media?” Indeed.

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