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World’s Thickest Bubble

Patrick Pexton, the Washington Post’s ombudsman, writes:

One aspect of The Post that particularly irks conservatives is the columnists who appear in print and online in news positions (as opposed to those on the editorial and op-ed pages and the online Opinions section). With the exception of Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza, who cover politics in a nonpartisan way, the news columnists almost to a person write from left of center.

Ezra Klein of Wonkblog comes out of the Democratic left, fills in for Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz on MSNBC and sometimes appears in the printed Post on the front page.

Steven Pearlstein, who covers business and also appears occasionally on the front page;Walter Pincus on national security; Lisa Miller of the On Faith blog; Melinda Henneberger of She the People; Valerie Strauss, the education blogger; plus the three main local columnists — Robert McCartneyPetula Dvorak and Courtland Milloy — all generally write from a progressive perspective, readers say. (So does Dana Milbank, who works for the Opinions section but writes a column that appears on Page A2 twice a week.)

Is it any wonder that if you’re a conservative looking for unbiased news — and they do; they don’t want only Sean Hannity’s interpretation of the news — that you might feel unwelcome, or dissed or slighted, by the printed Post or the online version? And might you distrust the news when it’s wrapped in so much liberal commentary?

Of course the Post’s executive editor is quoted denying the bias, just as the New York Times’s leadership does whenever its ombudsman makes the same observation. Would it kill these people to admit that conservative critics might have a point? There is no bubble thicker than the one surrounding American newsrooms on the question of liberal bias. The epistemic closure is nearly complete.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Ross Douthat complains about the national press corps’ bias in favor of the horse race model of campaign coverage. Excerpt:

By choosing instead to sit back and play it safe for much of the year, assuming that the underlying story of economic weakness would deliver them the White House no matter what stories drove coverage in the day-to-day, Team Romney set themselves up for exactly the kind of horse-race-driven disaster they’ve experienced this month.

But just because it was predictable doesn’t mean that it’s a positive sign, for the press or the republic that it’s supposed to serve, that the incumbent president is suddenly gliding to re-election without having to answer for his economic record or explain what will be different about his second term.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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