Tuesday May 10, 2022
Prominent journalists are calling for the media to champion a “pro-democracy” bias in how they portray politicians and government agencies. But tub-thumping for democracy — or at least for politicians who claim to be pro-democracy — is a poor substitute for exposing the proliferation of government abuses. Freedom will be the victim if journalists grasp a new pretext to portray government as a trustworthy savior.
In January, Washington Post columnist Perry Bacon called for a “pro-democracy media,” vigorously describing “long-standing Republican tactics such as aggressive gerrymandering as … dangers to democracy.” Bacon frets because “gun-shy editors” fail to denounce Republican “radicalism” in banner headlines. Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan declared, “That American democracy is teetering is unquestionable” due to pro-Trump Republicans, requiring a “new pro-democracy emphasis” to be “articulated clearly — and fearlessly — to readers and viewers.” Post columnist Brian Klaas admits that “the media adopting a pro-democracy bias … effectively means being pro-Democratic [Party],” but there is no alternative except to “unequivocally and unapologetically condemn” Republicans.
What could possibly go wrong from journalists pretending that only one political party threatens Americans’ rights and liberties? Demonizing one political party tacitly saints their opponents. But both Republicans and Democrats have a long record of unleashing federal agencies and ignoring the subsequent constitutional carnage.
Urging the media to become “pro-democracy” is reminiscent of a corporation that is almost bankrupt and gambles everything on a desperate “Hail Mary” pass. A June 2021 survey by the Reuters Institute reported that only 29 percent of Americans trusted the news media — the lowest rating of any of the 46 nations surveyed. A Gallup poll last year revealed that “86 percent of Americans believed the media was politically biased.” Practically the only folks who don’t recognize the bias are the people who share the media’s slant.