Get this: Despite what you thought, most American journalists aren’t liberal Democrats. I know this because that’s what the journalists told two pollsters from the University of Indiana. Turns out that most journalists are independents. And journalists wouldn’t lie, right?
First let me state the obvious: the poll is ridiculous.
It found that in 2013 only 28 percent of journalists said they were Democrats while slightly over 50 percent identified themselves as independents.
Years ago, I predicted this would happen. Journalists know better than to tell the truth and tell the pollsters who they really are. They know that if 85 percent or so said they were Democrats, Americans would say, “See, I knew it. That’s why they’re so biased and so enamored with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”
So instead they say “We’re not partisans, we’re open minded, fair independents.” Sure. If these same reporters were injected with truth serum I’ll bet about 90 percent of them – maybe more — would acknowledge they voted for Barack Obama – twice. After all, these are the same people who slobbered over candidate Obama when he first ran for president. Now we’re supposed to believe that only about one in four votes (or at last self identifies as) Democrat?
It’s worth recalling what Mark Halperin, then of Time magazine said about the media’s coverage of the 2012 presidential race: “The media is very susceptible to doing what the Obama campaign wants …” And that’s from a mainstream journalist.
The poll also notes that back in 1971 more reporters than now said they were Democrats – 35.5 percent. Back then nearly 26 percent identified as Republicans. In 2013 that number was way down to seven percent. In 2002, 36 percent identified as Democrats and 18 percent as Republicans.
In the Washington Post, political columnist Chris Cillizza writes that, “What seems to be happening — at least in the last decade – -is that journalists are leaving both parties, finding themselves more comfortable as unaffiliateds.” He also writes, “The movement toward independent status among reporters is in keeping with a similar move in the broader electorate as they find the two parties increasingly rigid and, therefore, less welcoming.”
I don’t think so. Most journalists – certainly those at America’s most important news organizations — aren’t independents. Everybody knows that. They’re liberal. They vote Democratic. They have not engaged in a change of heart, just a change in public relations tactics.
This poll is worthless. It tells us nothing about how journalists really think. Unlike Chris Matthews, most had more sense to admit what Matthews admitted on television: that they also get a thrill running up their leg when Mr. Obama speaks.
This is why Big Journalism needs to embrace my Big Idea: affirmative action for the smallest minority in the American newsroom – conservative journalists.
Under my plan conservative journalists would be told to check their opinions at the door. Liberals would be told the same. But the affirmative action journalists would bring another perspective to the newsroom – and that would affect how all sorts of stories from race and gender to taxes and foreign policy are covered.
I know: I won’t hold my breath.