M.D. Harmon – Invincible Cluelessness


When the talk at the corner bar turns to bias in the media, the conversation usually devolves very quickly to conservatives saying they never get a fair shake, and the liberals replying, “Oh, yeah? What about Fox News? Fox News! FOX NEWS!”

This column will try to start out at a higher level than that, and what could be a more exalted entry in the you-and-the-equine-you-rode-in-on sweepstakes than this blog comment, which was posted on Al Diamon’s DownEast magazine site, Media Mutt, on Nov. 18.

The author, who identified himself (or herself) only as “Midcoast Editor,” was commenting on Diamon’s note about the imminent launch of the web site on which this column appears.

Another commenter, Jim Cyr, had ventured the opinion that liberal bias in the state’s media was obvious to anyone not willfully blind to it, and Midcoast Editor posted this oddly revealing reply, which I quote in its entirety:

“Jim, newspapers are liberal by definition … that is, we hold that freedom of speech and of the press (and by extension, assembly, petition, right to be free from search and seizure, and so on) are sacred principles. All could be considered ‘liberal’ biases, so when a story is done on, oh, say, randomly drug testing poor welfare recipients without cause, the press is going to respond according to those principles.

“The more important issue here is not whether there is an institutional bias, but is one of independence. Journalists strive for balance and independence. You may not agree with the stories they choose to run, or the conclusions reached, but a good reporter will reach out to sources on both sides of an issue in the interests of fairness.

“However, journalists aren’t letting third party organizations write their copy for them, or determine what they can write about, which is what the Heritage Policy Center says upfront it is planning to do. Imagine the Audubon Society doing that, and calling it a ‘news organization’. It’s basically a gussied up press release masquerading as a ‘news’ story.”

First of all, note that Cyr had the stones to use his name, which is more than we can say for his gutless critic. Still, since this quote will someday be displayed prominently at the National Museum of Invincible Cluelessness, it deserves a bit of fisking.

Note the tone of the first paragraph. What kind of person would take a recital of rights listed in the Bill of Rights and hold that they are “liberal by definition,” and thus fairly to considered to be “liberal biases”?

That would be the kind of person whose unstated corollary is this: “Jim, you hapless right-wing dweeb, I and other proud liberals defend these timeless values against the predations of conservatives like you who are constantly trying to overturn them.”

Midcoast Editor knows who holds the high ground, and peasants who dare to think they, too, might have a right to have their opinions respected and presented fairly are just fighting the Constitution, which is firmly in the hands of liberals, its only true protectors.

You’d have to look long and hard to find a better argument that liberals have a bias that lets them run roughshod over other people’s views.

When your outlook begins with the position that you’re right and those who disagree with you are by definition wrong, you’ve already conceded the point they’re trying to make. You couldn’t care less about fairness; the only thing that matters is defending what you already believe to be true, by any means necessary.

And that arrogance spills like an overflowing bathtub into Midcoast Editor’s succeeding comments. Behind the words are concepts like these:

“We decide what news is, you don’t. We are qualified to determine who gets to comment and who doesn’t, you don’t. And if you think something is important and worth major coverage, and we don‘t, well, too bad for you. We’ll print the sources we like, and downplay, denigrate or ignore the ones we don’t — and those who try to cover those sources we’ve discarded or ignored are just reprinting news releases. Like we never do. Ever. Really.”

Sadly for Midcoast Editor and his ilk, the problem for all too many liberal outlets is the time is long gone when people had to shut up and buy their views because that was the only choice they had.

Listen up, Mr. Gutless Coward Anonymous Editor: Thousands of web sites like this one are here now to cover the stories you won’t — and give people the facts and viewpoints that your censorship (yes, that’s what it really is) can’t hide from them any longer.

Welcome to the Internet. You may not like it, but the millions of people it has set free from the liberal plantation surely do.

M.D. Harmon is a retired journalist. He can be reached at: