December 07, 2002
As Left As They Can Be

Media Minded has an interesting post on E. J. Dionne's claim that

on social and cultural issues -- abortion and religion come to mind -- journalism was not particularly hospitable to conservative voices. But on economic issues -- especially free trade and balanced budgets -- the press tilted toward the center or even toward moderate conservatism.

There is some truth to this, though "not particularly hospitable" is a euphemism for "reflexively hostile". But the most interesting thing about Dionne's dichotomy is that social and cultural issues are much more matters of opinion, while economic issues are more matters of fact. Economics is not exactly a science, but it is clear by now to anyone who has been paying attention that the only economics that work are the moderately or strongly conservative (or libertarian) kind. Socialism and communism are pseudo-economics. (Or would that be pseudo-economicses? Just kidding.)

The result is that journalists and others who go left on social and cultural issues and mildly right on economics are generally going as left as they can go without going stupid. That hardly refutes the idea that left-wing bias in journalism is pervasive.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at December 07, 2002 12:07 AM

We should beware of allowing ourselves not to notice that there is a slowly dawning change in this matter, as conservatives and libertarians (if there is a real difference--I suspect there is far less than the libertarians would like to think) get more respect and their voices are allowed to be heard, and in some cases have become much less timid. The times, they are a'changin'.

Let's also not fail to note the possibility that for some, a very moderate left tilt is still far to the right of many observers. These folks simply aren't used to thinking of themselves as far-left. Even though they are, by and large.

The ancien regime always resists change.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on December 10, 2002 09:12 AM

I'm getting tired of self-proclaimed moderates saying that they're fiscally conservative when they are in favor of increasing government spending in just about every area.

When was the last time you can recall Dionne, or the media, saying "You know, putting more money into this program may seem like a good idea, but it would do more harm than good" for any program that wasn't an explicitly conservative one?

Posted by: R. Alex on December 10, 2002 12:21 PM

I'd question whether the media are economically conservative (or even centrist). Whenever there's any story about any problem, the unspoken question is, "What should the government do about this?" Rare is the news story that considers the question, "Should the government do something about this?".

I think the apparent "fiscal conservatism" is just a stick to beat conservatives with. When a Reagan presidency ran deficits, everyone suddenly discovered that deficits were bad. When a Republican congress proposed a balanced-budget ammendment (under Clinton), the papers ran stories about the catastrophic results of such an ammendment--that is, the bad effects of balancing the budget. And now that there's a Republican president, everyone's a deficit hawk again.

Posted by: Andrew Solovay on December 10, 2002 08:56 PM