“Conventional, fact-based reporting is a liberal activity, just as teaching, academic research, social work, public defense, and public broadcasting are liberal activities. Can we just accept that once and for all and move on?” ~ DougJ attempting to dash my hopes for a better conservative journalism.
I must humbly disagree with this broad generalization. Journalism is merely the act of gathering and disseminating news and information – and good journalism is simply this effort minus any bias or attempts at propaganda. I don’t think that at its core it is either liberal or conservative in any modern, American sense of those words, or any other ideology for that matter. So then, what do I mean by better conservative journalism?
I suppose what I was talking about was better conservative analysis and opinion, rooted firmly in facts and evidence. In this country, conservative television and radio almost always panders to the lowest common denominator, and do so by blithely ignoring facts and research. This helps conservative politicians in the polls, and helps fuel the culture wars, but it does very little to promote conservative causes beyond the very short term. I view the current conservative movement as something of a supernova: it keeps burning hotter and hotter and expanding in its bitter rush to implosion and eventual self-destruction. FOX is an enabler of this astronomical atrophy.
But it’s just silly to say that fact-based reporting (or teaching or research, etc.) are inherently liberal activities. First of all – I’m still not entirely sure what people mean when they say the word liberal. Like most broad political leanings, it can actually have quite a lot of meanings, and there is indeed a great deal of disagreement amongst liberals over policies, over first principles, etc. Furthermore, how liberal should reporting be? If it’s an inherently liberal activity, shouldn’t we just push the whole fact-based thing off to the side and really drive home the liberal message? If not, then maybe journalism isn’t actually liberal in nature. Maybe it’s that third box down: neither A nor B.
In fact, I’d say there’s something of the small “c” conservatism present in all good journalism (and in very little journalism today). I’ve argued before (can’t find the link, however) that I thought NPR was in fact more conservative than FOX News, and I still think that. NPR is fanatical with its fact-checking, and extremely cautious with opinion-making on its airwaves (or even with risking opinion-forming events like the Stewart/Colbert rallies for its off-duty reporters). NPR maintains a dignified, measured tone and approach to its reporting; the same cannot be said for FOX, which is far more radical in just about every category. One could argue this is merely the difference between highbrow and lowbrow, but I think it goes deeper than that.
What would a conservative doppelganger to NPR look like? I imagine it would actually be very similar – for it to remain as neutral an entity as possible it could afford very little wiggle room to make itself more slanted to the right. At best, I could see NPR ditching obviously partisan programs such as Democracy Now! (which is which really has no business on NPR airwaves to begin with). I think this would be a better move than say, adding a Glenn Beck or a Mark Levin to create a counter balance.