Mrs. Graham, Do Liberals Exist?
by L. Brent Bozell III
February 20, 1997
Former Washington Post reporter David Remnick writes in The
New Yorker that Washington Post owner Katharine Graham's personal memoir
underscores "how ridiculous is the right-wing image of Graham as the
matriarch of the liberal-media conspiracy. Her allegiance to democratic
capitalism is no less firm than that of William F. Buckley Jr., and her
inherent faith that the establishment elites will do the right thing is nearly
It makes you wonder: What possesses men like Remnick to
write such foolishness? A simple challenge to provide the list of people who
would place Mrs. Graham at the center of a "liberal-media
conspiracy" would trigger the same number of people who believe she's a
Buckley clone on economics. Remnick does concede that reporters are 89-percent
pro-Clinton liberals, but like so many in the press, he offers a disclaimer,
to wit: "that statistic has to be balanced by the conservatism of nearly
all publishers." Remnick has no publishers' poll (because none exists) to
validate his claim. He is fighting the sword of demographic fact with a wet
noodle of empty speculation.
The evidence of a liberal bias ultimately should be found in
the product, and for Remnick to deny its existence in The Washington Post is
to raise the suspicion he hasn't read the paper that paid his salary.
The way a news outlet labels public policy leaders is a
pretty devastating indicator. On the front page of the Post's February 4
edition, reporter (or is it lobbyist?) Thomas Lippman wrote that Sen. Jesse
Helms "served notice yesterday that he will hold an international treaty
banning chemical weapons hostage to his own foreign policy agenda....Suppporters
of the treaty said Helms has created the first test of [Senate Majority Leader
Trent] Lott's leadership, arguing that he should use his clout to win
ratification of the agreement rather than letting Helms and his conservative
allies control the agenda." Are there no supporters of the Chemical
Weapons Convention who are "liberal"? Why not say it?
The same day, on A4, the American Bar Association, "the
nation's largest and most influential organization of lawyers," voted to
put an end to the death penalty. They were not "liberal." On the
same page was a story headlined "Conservative Group Seeks Access to White
House and DNC Data." Toni Locy described the efforts of Judicial Watch,
dutifully describing it as a "conservative watchdog group." Also on
A4, Rep. Bud Shuster's (R-Pa.) role in aiding two campaign contributors with a
Boston highway project was denounced by two advocates for taxpayer-funded
campaigns. The Center for Responsive Politics, "a campaign finance
research group," and the Congressional Accountability Project, "a
Ralph Nader-affiliated group," were not "liberal."
On Page A6, the Post headline read: "Archbishop Kindles
Outrage in Gay Community: San Francisco Activists View Stand on Spousal
Benefits as Beginning of Conservative Tide." Peter S. Goodman began:
"When Archbishop William J. Levada arrived in San Francisco two years
ago, many within this city's vast gay community saw it as an ominous sign.
Levada was a rising and ambitious figure within the conservative ranks of the
Roman Catholic Church. The man he was replacing, John Quinn, had been hailed
as a voice of moderation, a barrier against the increasingly traditionalist
winds of the Vatican. This irreverent city braced for a conservative
storm." You can't stack up many more pejoratives against conservatives
than that -- and once again, not even a mention of the L word. (If they're not
in San Francisco, where are they?)
Speaking of California, a week later, Post reporter John E.
Yang swooned over freshman Rep. Walter Capps (D-Calif.) in a story headlined
"Lawmaker With a Soul Purpose." Capps would be "contemplating
the nourishment of the soul, not the building of electoral blocs,"
putting "a greater emphasis on principles than party loyalty." Capps
spent the 1960s conducting anti-American teach-ins on the Vietnam War, and has
written a book attacking the religious right, and yet not once could Yang call
him a "liberal."
On the 18th, Post Supreme Court reporter Joan Biskupic
produced the second attack piece in a year on Supreme Court Justice Antonin
Scalia. "Nothing Subtle About Scalia, the Combative Conservative,"
read the headline. Biskupic wrote Scalia was "known for his fierce
conservatism." Among those testifying were Alan Morrison, leftist lawyer
for Ralph Nader's Public Citizen; liberal legal icon Laurence Tribe; and
"mild-mannered" liberal fellow Justice David Souter. Yup: none of
them were labeled "liberal."
(On June 30, 1996, Biskupic proclaimed Scalia, "on the
far right of the spectrum...levels his attacks on people who are far from
flaming liberals, either judicially or politically.")
Liberal bias reigns supreme, with or without the publisher's
imprimatur, at The Washington Post. Aliens could read Kay Graham's paper and
rightly wonder: Are there any liberals contesting the "far right" on
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