Sep
01
1995

A Skeptical Look at 'Cynical' Reporters

Talk about being hoist on your own petard! That indispensable tool of modern journalism, the opinion poll, has dealt us journalists a cruel blow. And our own journalistic establishment--the Tunes Mirror Center for the People and the Press, and how much more poohbah can you get?-- paid for the poll. The poll determined, scientifically as all get out, that the American public is nearly twice as "cynical" (they mean skeptical) as journalists. To be precise, 77 percent of the people but only 40 percent of the Washington press corps give low marks to politicians for honesty and ethics. Shocking. And […]

Sep
01
1995

By Any Means Necessary

The Ultra-Relativism of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page

With the largest daily circulation of any national newspaper, 1.8 million, and with an affluent and elite audience, the Wall Street Journal is one of the most influential mainstream media organs. Its large circulation is based in substantial measure on its high-quality news offerings, which gives Journal readers a better-than-average view of reality. The paper also has an editorial page, which is under separate operating direction from the news department. A 1993 publisher's report to Journal readers (presented in a full-page New York Times ad, 1/25/93) pointed out that "the Journal's editorial views do not guide or even influence the […]

Sep
01
1995

Hast Seen the Whitewater Whale?

The Journal's Quest for Conspiracy

"Above all it is about hypocrisy," the Wall Street Journal editorial page explained (3/21/94) in one of its dozens of commentaries on the Whitewater scandal. Robert Bartley and his conservative editorial crew meant the "hypocrisy" of President Clinton who denounced the 1980s as "a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness" while himself trying to get a piece of the action. Without doubt, the Journal is right that Bill and Hillary Clinton deserve a margin calls' worth of grief for profiting--or even trying to profit--from their political connections and insider commodities advice. But Bartley and his writers are living in a […]

Sep
01
1995

20 Reasons Not to Trust the Journal Editorial Page

1. When Anita Hill took a polygraph test to try to substantiate her charges of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, the Wall Street Journal attacked her in an editorial (10/15/91) titled "Credibility Gulch": "Lie detector tests are so unreliable they are rarely allowed as evidence in court." But just eight months later (6/9/92), when the Journal argued against an Iran-contra perjury indictment of former Secretary of Defense (and editorial page contributor) Caspar Weinberger, this was its main evidence for Weinberger's innocence: "Mr. Weinberger has taken and passed a lie-detector test on the matter." 2. Referring to the investigation into the […]

Sep
01
1995

White Man's Burden

How the Press Frames Affirmative Action

"Quotas Quashed," crowed the front page of the June 13 New York Post. "High Court Sinks Most Affirmative Action Programs." Inside, Post writers described the Adarand v. Pena ruling, in which the Supreme Court tightened criteria for some race-conscious federal programs, as a "bombshell decision" that "dealt a crippling blow to affirmative action." All the June 12 ruling really said was that federal programs must meet the same narrower requirements already established for the states. Some specific programs were challenged, but the court explicitly acknowledged the ongoing existence of racism and sexism and the continued need for remedies. The mainstream […]