PJ Media columnist Jim Treacher once summarized the news media in just 19 words: “Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.” Mr. Treacher tweeted that over four years ago.
The sentiment has since been revisited by both “Instapundit” Glenn Reynolds and Gail L. Heriot, a University of San Diego law professor and author of a new academic paper titled “Perceptions of newsworthiness are contaminated by a political usefulness bias.” A story which is useful to the preferred political cause wins approval and attention from the public, and from the press as well.
“Formulaic rules of journalism, while important, do not provide any effective resistance to biases that arise earlier, in the process of deciding which stories are newsworthy enough to deserve coverage in the first place. The current results suggest that biases in this phase might be strong and insidious,” the paper said.
This “usefulness” factor has come into the full flower during the Trump administration. For the second year in a row, an intense Media Research Center study of broadcast news which aired throughout 2018 revealed that 90 percent was “incessantly hostile” toward President Trump. Lots of “usefulness” going on there.
But supposing the press favors the subject in question? Let us cite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who often gets very kind coverage indeed. Fox News prime-time host Laura Ingraham, in fact, recently offered a lengthy montage of such accolades — which praised Mrs. Pelosi for being “in charge” and a “political genius” for battling Mr. Trump over the southern border wall and other matters.