Nov 1 2005

Deducing the Definition of ‘Demonizing’

When people claim to find a liberal bias in corporate media, one has to wonder: Are they getting some kind of special news, unavailable to regular people? Or have they so internalized the liberal media canard that they simply presume the existence of a liberal slant?

The Note, ABC News’ daily email news digest, often accuses the mainstream media, of which ABC News is a major part, of having a leftward slant—as in this item (9/19/05):

The press and the Democrats are still demonizing Karl Rove’s involvement in anything and everything, expressing shock and horror that a deputy White House chief of staff with wide-ranging applicable experience is helping to oversee the Katrina response.

The Note was referring to a report in the New York Times (9/15/05) that Rove, Bush’s chief political advisor, was “in charge of the reconstruction effort.” That’s “in charge”—not “helping to oversee,” as The Note had it.

It’s not at all clear what ABC meant by Rove’s “applicable experience” in reconstruction efforts—Rove would appear to have as much practical experience in disaster recovery as ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown, which is to say, virtually none. But even more puzzling was The Note’s reference to “the press . . . expressing shock and horror” at Rove being given this task. While some opinion columnists have criticized Rove’s assignment, it has actually received very little mention in news reports.

On television in particular, the story has been essentially invisible; on the day The Note made its assertion, a check of Nexis transcripts for ABC, CBS and NBC turned up only one passing mention on ABC’s This Week (9/18/05). ABC’s complete discussion of the issue went as follows:

This Week host George Stephanopoulos: And now, George Will, Karl Rove is actually running the hurricane recovery effort inside the White House.

Will: He’s a czar without a crown. Good.

That was it—the three broadcast news networks’ complete discussion of Karl Rove being put in charge of Katrina reconstruction. Is that what The Note meant by “still demonizing”? Or was the raging liberal press corps a straw man that existed only in ABC News’ collective head?