The Democratic Party Confronts the Perils of a Biased Press

The lack of a critical press isn’t helping the Democratic Party: It is hurting it.

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Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the Moving America Forward Forum hosted by United for Infrastructure at the Student Union at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. February 16, 2020. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

The idea that most major media outlets lean slightly left was once a fringe conservative conspiracy theory popular only with certain segments of the tin-foil hat wearing population. And with libertarians.

Today, however, it is a well-known fact that most major news organizations in the U.S. lean left. Some do so openly so by their own admission, others tacitly. As such, members of the press were bound to be hard on any Republican president with whom, by virtue of fundamental differences in political opinions, they were bound to disagree.

The meeting of Donald Trump and the U.S. press was instead a perfect storm; a press biased against a Republican president, and a Republican president unlike any other. One who thrived on controversy, courted drama and wasn’t at all cowed by the Democratic Party’s success in the “Culture Wars”.

But the contentious relationship between the U.S. press and Donald Trump didn’t get its start during the 2016 presidential campaign; it actually started in 2008.

Unlike Donald Trump, President Barack Obama, the sender of shivers up journalistic legs, was the darling of the U.S. media at large. Obama was once asked by a breathless press corp such hard hitting questions as “What are your picks for March Madness?”.

Meanwhile, even the very Democrat-friendly Washington Post now admits the extents to which the Obama administration went to conceal military failures in Afghanistan from the American public.

While the press was looking elsewhere, the Obama administration deported more people than the Trump administration. While the press fawned over him, Obama continued the drone-bombing policies of the Bush years and expanded on those programs.

Such overwhelmingly positive coverage of the Obama administration for eight-years created an unguarded, naive press who never saw the upset of the 2016 election coming because their reporting had become too one-sided to be reliable.

The complete lack of media coverage of the economic shortcomings of the Obama administration created a huge blindspot, through which Donald Trump strolled to the presidency.

Of course journalists in New York thought Hillary Clinton was going to win; they didn’t know a single person who wasn’t planning to vote for her. They didn't know anyone left behind economically by the last two presidential administrations, including Barack Obama- for which many a blue-collar Democrat voted.

Because of the press’s myopic view, Democrats are again buying into a false sense of security about Trump’s chances in November.

But touting poll after poll showing Joe Biden beating incumbent president Donald Trump- while calling them “methodologically similar polls” to the ones that miserably failed to predict the outcome of the 2016 election- is not a logical strategy.

It is convincing members of the press that their ruthless coverage of the Trump administration is working to convince undecided and swing voters who broke for Trump in 2016 to vote Democrat in November.

When in fact, the press’s relentlessly negative coverage of the Trump administration is not working to help Democrats get elected in the places it matters most. While it does serve to deepen already existing progressive animosity towards Donald Trump, and undoubtably feels good, it doesn’t win many converts.

“The results suggest that Mr. Biden, despite his reputed appeal to blue-collar workers, has made little to no progress in winning back the white voters without a college degree who supported Barack Obama in 2012 but swung to Mr. Trump in 2016.” — Nate Cohn, New York Times. April 13, 2020.

It is possible that high-information independent and undecided voters resent the blatant favoritism major news publications show mainstream Democrats. That the Democratic Party has now twice out-maneuvered Bernie Sanders in a concerted effort to keep him from the Democratic nomination hasn’t impressed liberal progressives in the Democratic Party much, either.

In spite of progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of former vice president Joe Biden there is a feeling on the far-left that corporate Democrats, and their attendant media, have let progressives in the Democratic Party down. Badly.

Major media outlets may think they are helping Democrats by favoring Democrats in their reporting. Anything to beat Donald Trump, being the most common rallying cry.

Well-meaning Democrats who are also journalists may think they know how best to beat Donald Trump in November; but they don’t. Time and time again, predictions that the sky is falling in on Donald Trump have come to nothing.

Favorable coverage is not helping Democrats: Instead it is undermining trust in the media. It is also giving some progressive members of the Democratic Party a false sense of security, and a false sense of how far general public opinion has shifted on certain liberal issues.

In taking the temperature of only the most progressive in the party, liberal Democrats have caused the party to overreach. And in overreaching, risk failure.

There is only one solution to the credibility problem the press is facing; stop favoring Democrats and report the news.

There is nothing better for a political party than a critical press. The lack of one isn’t helping the Democratic Party; it is hurting it.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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