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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cindy Ross Scoppe, Non-Liberal Journalist, Meet Cindy Ross Scoppe, Member of Liberal Media

Scoppe uses the op-ed page of The State in South Carolina to take on "Judith Miller and the Myth of the Liberal Media." But is she affirming that there is a liberal media or denying its existence? Hard to tell from these two quotes within her piece:

First, there is Scoppe, the non-liberal:

"A few months after I became an editorial writer, I was talking with a friend who had been widely regarded as one of the most conservative members of the Legislature. He told me how surprised he was by how often he found himself agreeing with my columns, because when I was a reporter, he had always figured me for a liberal.
(Yes, I know some of you still consider me to be a liberal. Trust me: You're in the minority. And you're wrong.)"

But then there is Scoppe, member of the clearly liberal media:

"As a group, we tend to be arrogant and nomadic, which too often results in our being quite detached from our communities.
"We are independent, fiercely competitive and suspicious of secrecy, and we tend to distrust and even disdain authority - characteristics that suit us well for digging out corruption but can make us act like petty children where none exists. (It also poses some interesting morale and management challenges inside newsrooms, but that's another story, and one I don't intend to write.)
"And yes, as a group we do tend to be more socially and politically liberal than our communities.
And yes, this does show up in our news coverage."

So which is it, Cindy?

Interestingly, she also acknowledges what can only be referred to as either a deep-seated ignorance or an outright manifestation of bigotry regarding people who profess to be born-again Christians:

"As nomadic outsiders, journalists build community among themselves. This leads to the group-think that takes over within any group of people with similar education, similar social status and similar worldviews.
"This creates huge blind spots that influence and limit our thinking. The blind spot that causes the greatest disconnect these days, of course, relates to religious and social issues, which have become the new litmus test of ideology in our country.

"Case in point: The concept of a 'born-again Christian' was foreign to the faith traditions in which most journalists grew up (if they grew up in any), and so official journalism is distrustful of anyone who calls himself one."

But then odds are good that few if any of Cindy's colleagues grew up with a familiarity with Hinduism or Taoism, yet nobody would argue that mainstream media attitudes toward those Eastern religions are even remotely hostile, as they so often are toward born-again Christians. Clearly, the media's hostility is not to religious faith per se but to a particular manifestation of faith, the one that is centered on Jesus Christ and His Resurrection.

But I digress.

Scoppe's biggest howler comes when she explains where the problem of media bias really lies. Why, it's not with the journalists, it's with their critics, especially those on the Right:

"Anyone who understands the journalistic mindset (see 'disdain for authority,' above) realizes that journalists don't care what the political views are of their targets. But most people don't understand the journalistic mindset."

Obviously, Scoppe hasn't read Bill Keller's memo to his staff at The New York Times. That's the one in which he tells them "even sophisticated readers of The New York Times sometimes find it hard to distinguish between news coverage and commentary in our pages." That in a nutshell is what critics across the political spectrum have said of the Times and the rest of the MSM for decades.

Somehow, Scoppe's op-ed doesn't give me much confidence that she would understand why the Blogosphere is exploding.