Unbiased and nonpolitical

I had a conversation online with a guy who thought the New York Times is an honest newspaper, completely unbiased and nonpolitical, especially its front page.

Well.  My reply is that the NYT is very much biased and has been since at least 1992, as I know from firsthand experience. I was a Reagan-55 military adviser in El Salvador at the time.  A NYT front-page article came out (above the fold) about a helicopter full of U.S. soldiers being shot down in the jungles of El Salvador.  That locution was in the lede.

The helicopter had indeed been shot down and surviving U.S. soldiers then murdered on the ground, but there were no jungles in El Salvador.  Trees, yes.  Limited forests, yes.  Jungles, no.  The author of that article was deliberately trying to make El Salvador sound like heavily jungled Vietnam, at the time only twenty years past and still raw in many reader memories.

That wasn't my introduction to biased news reporting, but it's stuck in my mind all these years as I've watched the NYT lose any claim to honest reporting or even to making any real effort at honest reporting.  They'll catch out a liar every now and then and act all incensed about it.  Bias just slips right on by.

No big deal, you may say.  Just another day at the office, or what's a little bias among friends?  No harm, I guess, as long as everybody in the world's your friend.

But bias affects how you think about things, how you understand people, how you report news, unless you consciously prune it.  Your average liberal doesn't know how conservatives behave or what they value, but he thinks he does.  Since he lives and works in a liberal fishbowl, he never actually sees or experiences a conservative.  So he invents a caricature and hangs on it everything he ever heard from his friends about conservatives.

He ends up like Robert Reich.  A few years ago, Jonah Goldberg reported on something Reich wrote about a meeting where conservatives jumped up and down, screamed and shouted, and carried on like progs.  Somebody got a video of the meeting, and nothing like that happened.  The histrionics were all in Reich's mind.  But that's how he sees the world, and how other liberals see the world.  In caricature.

When you're biased, unaware of it, and given to caricature, conservatives become bitter clingers and baskets of deplorables.  When that's how you see the world, imagination turns a few trees into a jungle, bullets come at you in a quiet airport, helicopters take rocket fire with you in them, and girls you knew long ago did things with you that never happened.

I once thought most people outgrow adolescence.  That was before I knew what a prog is.  And that was before I knew about the liars at the New York Times.

I had a conversation online with a guy who thought the New York Times is an honest newspaper, completely unbiased and nonpolitical, especially its front page.

Well.  My reply is that the NYT is very much biased and has been since at least 1992, as I know from firsthand experience. I was a Reagan-55 military adviser in El Salvador at the time.  A NYT front-page article came out (above the fold) about a helicopter full of U.S. soldiers being shot down in the jungles of El Salvador.  That locution was in the lede.

The helicopter had indeed been shot down and surviving U.S. soldiers then murdered on the ground, but there were no jungles in El Salvador.  Trees, yes.  Limited forests, yes.  Jungles, no.  The author of that article was deliberately trying to make El Salvador sound like heavily jungled Vietnam, at the time only twenty years past and still raw in many reader memories.

That wasn't my introduction to biased news reporting, but it's stuck in my mind all these years as I've watched the NYT lose any claim to honest reporting or even to making any real effort at honest reporting.  They'll catch out a liar every now and then and act all incensed about it.  Bias just slips right on by.

No big deal, you may say.  Just another day at the office, or what's a little bias among friends?  No harm, I guess, as long as everybody in the world's your friend.

But bias affects how you think about things, how you understand people, how you report news, unless you consciously prune it.  Your average liberal doesn't know how conservatives behave or what they value, but he thinks he does.  Since he lives and works in a liberal fishbowl, he never actually sees or experiences a conservative.  So he invents a caricature and hangs on it everything he ever heard from his friends about conservatives.

He ends up like Robert Reich.  A few years ago, Jonah Goldberg reported on something Reich wrote about a meeting where conservatives jumped up and down, screamed and shouted, and carried on like progs.  Somebody got a video of the meeting, and nothing like that happened.  The histrionics were all in Reich's mind.  But that's how he sees the world, and how other liberals see the world.  In caricature.

When you're biased, unaware of it, and given to caricature, conservatives become bitter clingers and baskets of deplorables.  When that's how you see the world, imagination turns a few trees into a jungle, bullets come at you in a quiet airport, helicopters take rocket fire with you in them, and girls you knew long ago did things with you that never happened.

I once thought most people outgrow adolescence.  That was before I knew what a prog is.  And that was before I knew about the liars at the New York Times.