Is there systematic political bias among the major media?

Is there systematic political bias among the major media? Of course not! They just believe what everyone knows to be true.

Saturday?s (May 25, 2002) Washington Post had two nice little items next to each other on page 3 of the Style Section. One was about the controversy surrounding “historian” Michael Bellesiles and the National Endowment for the Humanities asking that the Endowment’s name be withdrawn from an award Bellisiles was granted by the Newberry Library. Bellisiles seems to have simply made up the “evidence” behind his startling claims that early Americans owned few guns. The Post writer described the issue as follows:

“The dispute was sparked by a fellowship the Newberry gave to controversial historian Michael A. Bellesiles. (The NEH funded the fellowship.) Bellesiles’ second book, “Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture,” has generated a lively debate, along with some accusations that his scholarship was extremely flawed.”

(For a rather more accurate account, see Melissa Seckora’s story of checking up on Bellisiles’s research.)

Imagine that an NRA member had made up out of whole cloth historical claims favorable to the NRA?s cause and then gotten caught. Would the Post have simply mentioned that there “some accusations that his scholarship was extremely flawed”? Right?.

Next to that essay, in the “Names and Faces” section, was a little story about how “a group of students” had promised to protest (read: disrupt) the award of a “Tradition of Excellence Award” to Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who had graduated from the school in 1942. The school administrators cancelled the award ceremony. Was this a case of spineless school administrators backing down in the face of intimidation and denying the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court the opportunity to address a public audience? Not according to the Post. Nope. It was a case of the school “discouraging students from speaking their minds.” Right….