Cal Thomas / Oct. 15, 2019

A New Insight Into Media Bias

Since America's colonial days the press has been a target of those who believe journalists have a point of view that shapes their reporting.

Since America’s colonial days the press has been a target of those who believe journalists have a point of view that shapes their reporting.

There have been numerous articles and studies revealing a journalistic predisposition to opinions and subjects that reinforce liberal points of view.

Now comes an excellent critique from World Magazine editor Marvin Olasky. His latest book, “Reforming Journalism,” is a philosophical and even theological deconstruction of historic and contemporary media.

Olasky dismisses the notion of “objectivity” in journalism. Everyone has a belief system, he argues, and it influences how each person approaches stories.

The author says American journalism has gone through four phases: In phase one, “many early American journalists assumed God is objectively real, with an existence independent of our minds.” Noting that the spiritual, then, regularly shaped the way journalists looked at the world, he adds, “Although no one in early American journalism used the term ‘objective reporting,’ some editors obviously understood that factuality demanded taking into account the spiritual.”

Then came phase two: “Starting midway through the 19th century, though, a new phase in the understanding of objectivity took hold among American journalists. They began to see ‘fact’ only as that which was scientifically measurable. As photographs began to provide a record of the visible, many journalists equated the visible with the real and began seeing the world as largely non-mysterious. They did not use the term ‘objectivity,’ but they made their own eyes the standard of authority: they were human cameras.”

What did those human cameras produce? Phase three, which was influenced by the rise of Marxism and Freudianism: “Objectivity could be reached, they thought, only through a balancing of multiple subjectivities. The outcome might be neither truthful nor accurate, but who knew what accuracy, let alone truth, really was? The triumph of theological liberalism in major Protestant denominations in the United States occurred at the same time. … This was no coincidence, since the balancing-of-subjectivities mode often suggests right or wrong does not exist — just opinion.”

Phase four was characterized by “disguised subjectivity, sometimes called ‘strategic ritual’ (pseudo-objectivity that provides defense against criticism). A key aspect of strategic ritual is choice of sources and selection of quotations. With half a dozen legitimate spokesmen on a particular issue, reporters can readily play journalistic ventriloquism by using the one who expresses their own position. As NBC reporter Norma Quarles acknowledged, ‘If I get the sense that things are boiling over, I can’t really say it. I have to get somebody else to say it.’”

Late in the last century, Olasky writes, “…some well-known American television journalists attacked the entire concept of objectivity. Robert Bazell said, ‘Objectivity is a fallacy. … There are different opinions, but you don’t have to give them equal weight.’ Linda Ellerbee wrote, ‘There is no such thing as objectivity. Any reporter who tells you he’s objective is lying to you.’ In the United States, some writers argued for a ‘new journalism’ in which reporters emphasized their own subjective impressions.”

Beyond the predictable distrust of journalists this has caused, the claim of objectivity has had considerable limitations. Some examples: “Reporters have never felt the need to balance anti-cancer statements with pro-cancer statements. In recent practice, secular-liberal reporters have seen pro-life concerns or ‘homophobia’ as cancerous, and many other Christian beliefs as similarly harmful. Objectivity was a reporting of multiple subjectivities, and truth was out there at a constantly receding horizon. If journalists in phase two happily saw themselves as cameras, journalists in phase three unhappily started to see themselves as stenographers or tape recorders.”

See how this works? It’s the same with “climate change,” abortion and many other issues. Anyone who goes against the faith of the secular-progressive culture is simply ignored, or ridiculed. In totalitarian societies it’s called propaganda.

Olasky’s faith shapes his positions, as the non-faith of secular progressives shapes theirs. For journalism to recover its reputation, a degree of fairness, accuracy and at least small doses of “objectivity” when reporting issues needs to be restored. Olasky’s book shows the way.

© 2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.