When reporters give strategic advice, they tend to reveal what they consider preferable policy goals. It’s one of the clearest examples of how media “bias” actually works. During a discussion of taxes and spending on Meet the Press (1/27/13), host David Gregory said this:
The question…is where the president tries to seek a way forward. I mean, he doesn’t think much of Republicans in terms of their approach or being able to deal with them. But he can also confuse the opposition a little bit if he would take the reins and say, “Look, we are going to have to do big spending cuts and here’s why. It’s ultimately helpful for the solvency of the country,” even if he has to push back against some Democrats.
That soundbite reveals a lot about Gregory’s worldview. For starters, Obama’s early move after re-election should be to do something Republicans want, not the people who voted for him. The country needs “big” cuts to spending because that would help “the solvency of the country.”
None of this makes much economic sense; there’s little to no evidence that dramatic spending cuts would do much to help anything at all. But journalists have a special fondness for advising Democrats to move right, mostly for its own sake. In their world, a Democrat is at his/her best when they defy their party, and the country would be better off the government started slashing spending.
Gregory’s not alone. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough recently hosted liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has been arguing for some time that focusing on deficits is precisely the wrong policy to turn the economy around, and that spending cuts would make things worse, not better. This bothers Scarborough; he didn’t have much to say to Krugman directly, but he wrote a column for Politico (1/28/13) headlined “Paul Krugman vs. the World.” He argues that Krugman’s view “runs counter to conventional wisdom across the Western world,” and perhaps most importantly, “counter to what I have been saying in Congress and in the media since 1994.”
“I did my best to give him space,” Scarborough writes–how generous of him!–but others were nonetheless outraged by what they heard. People that Scarborough knows well, like former diplomat Richard Haass, former Joint Chief chairman Michael Mullen, banker and Clinton Democrat Erskine Bowles and even Scarborough’s co-host Mika Brzezinski.
That’s an impressive list of…well, people who aren’t economists, and have not demonstrated any particular expertise or prescience when it comes to the issues being debated. They are, though, well-established members of a political-media establishment that pushes for cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare in order to keep taxes on corporations and the wealthy low.
That’s their worldview; and, just like Gregory counsels Obama to move to the right, people who see things differently are the ones who have a point of view that is outside what they think is the consensus.