Bob Thomas: Journalists aren’t any less biased than columnists
February 28, 2013
On Jan. 14, my esteemed colleague, Guy Farmer, wrote his Sunday column about pure, unbiased journalists vs. columnists and bloggers who say pretty much whatever they want and let the chips fall where they may. Yes, we columnists do have the luxury of bias, and the most honest of us make no pretense of hiding it.However, there is quite a difference between bloggers who answer to no one and us columnists who answer to editors who demand facts. But Guy has a big advantage. We columnists know how to write, but our professions may be industry, business, teaching or whatever. Guy is not only a columnist; he is also a bona fide journalist so no matter what, his journalistic purity will always prevail.Now I agree with him that journalists who report the news are all trained to be unbiased, but that doesn’t always hold true. The legendary Dan Rather lost his news anchor job with CBS because he allowed his bias to trap him into broadcasting a false story about President Bush. Being a columnist myself, I can smell bias like a moose at rutting time. During the recent political campaign, bias ran rampant in the mainstream media.The No. 1 trick is to ignore stories or issues they don’t like or agree with. TV and radio journalism are more prone to doing that than are newspapers. When newspapers don’t like a story, they bury it in the back pages, but the TV boys and girls just spike it. The biggest offenders in spiking TV news are MSNBC and CNN. The only way to get all of the broadcast news these days is to include Fox News.Why am I so sure that bias is often a factor in the news as reported by some mainstream journalists? Politics! It has been published by several well-known sources that 80 percent of journalists, both print and broadcast, are Democrats and admitted liberals. There is simply no way that some of that huge majority of like-minded journalists can keep their personal biases out of and away from what they do especially during a spiteful campaign like the last one.So how do so many journalists get to be liberal? Having two children both of whom were journalists, plus my closest high school buddy who later became executive editor of the Ventura County Star, I can say with certainty that those kids all had an overpowering desire to be heard. They were convinced they had something important to say that was earth-shaking enough to help change the world and save humanity.My eldest daughter left journalism early in favor of public relations, but her little brother, my son who died last year, graduated from the UNR Reynolds School of Journalism. H was a firebrand early on who, after working hard at The Wenatchee World for two years, found out the hard way that whatever he had to say was of little interest to the general public.He was also the only conservative in his journalism class as well as in his newspaper, feeling isolated by colleagues who refused to accept him socially. So he opted out of journalism, returning to UNR to attend Judicial College, being elected to the office of Justice of the Peace in his beloved area of Gerlach, where he was in his second six-year term when he died. His one day in the journalistic sun was having one of his stories picked up by The Associated Press.OK. What can we citizens do to offset bias other than peruse more than one source? Nothing really. Journalists are who they are. I can’t see any way to re-educate them against having been brainwashed by liberal teachers during four years of college, and then working exclusively with politically like-minded colleagues. The profession is inbred, and as long as journalists envision themselves as the champions of the underdogs, the downtrodden, there’s no reason to consider conservatism. But their mistake is that society’s real underdogs are taxpaying job providers who battle confiscatory tax rates and overzealous government regulators, daily. No, the real underdogs are not the perennial takers who exploit our entitlement system for all it’s worth.•Bob Thomas is a retired high-tech industrialist who later served on the Carson City School Board, the state welfare board and the airport authority, and as a state assemblyman. His website is http://www.worldclassentrepreneur.com.