Roger Simon and Media Bias
By Jonah Goldberg
October 14, 2013 4:59 PM
Over at Politico, Roger Simon has written a fairly trollish bit of “analysis,” which leads off with what he calls a joke about how America would be better off if John Boehner and Ted Cruz drowned. It goes on with the usual clichéd drek about the shutdown being racist and so on. No doubt many liberals think it’s right on target. But that’s not what interests me. Simon’s column reminds me of a point I’ve been making for years. Most mainstream journalists roll their eyes at the idea the MSM is biased. It’s a tired argument, I know. But it’s simply remarkable that when supposedly objective reporters move on to the opinion column racket they reveal themselves as utterly conventional liberal Democrats. When any longtime New York Times reporter rewarded with a column at the Times or elsewhere — Nick Kristoff, Bill Keller, Maureen Dowd, Anthony Lewis, EJ Dionne et al. — rips off the mask it turns out that they were exactly as liberal as conservatives suspected. It’s like that Saturday Night Live skit where Obama takes off his Obama mask to reveal that he’s Barack Obama.
Just going by the law of averages, some of these reporters should turn out to be conservative or libertarian or at least ideologically heterodox. But it almost never happens. Indeed, when the Times needs to find a conservative columnist (Bill Safire, David Brooks, Ross Douthat) it always has to hire outside its own shop.
Jay Carney got his job working for Joe Biden, and later, Barack Obama because his employers knew from the get-go that the Time reporter was ideologically simpatico with the administration. The same goes for Linda Douglas, not to mention Richard Stengel, Shailagh Murray, and many others. I wonder if any of them ever feel insulted when Democratic politicians just assume that supposedly objective reporters would make great partisan hacks?
Sometimes the revolving door goes the other way. Tim Russert was, I’ll grant, more of a straight shooter than David Gregory is (which kind of proves my point), but he was simply plucked from the Democratic machinery, as was George Stephanopoulos (who’s done a better job than most in making the switch with intellectual integrity). Sure, there have been a handful of straight reporters who’ve gone Republican, but their numbers are so tiny their examples serves as the exceptions that prove the rule.
So here’s Roger Simon, who made his name as a straight reporter at all the right outlets and it turns out that his worldview all along was exactly what the conservative media critics would have expected. There’s no crime here. Some of his work back then was legitimately very good and some of his columns as a liberal pundit are quite good as well (though today’s column is a mess). And one can even applaud the effort some of these people exerted to cover their real views when they were supposed to be objective. But from the conservative perspective it was a lot of wasted effort, because they didn’t fool anybody — except maybe the journalists themselves.