Thursday, July 22, 2004

Media bias is certainly not a new issue for anyone. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that it might be the most popular (read: overdone) topic in the conservative blogosphere.

Still, the conference I attended in Tampa last week, at which President Bush spoke, provides a compelling new example of this ongoing liberal bias. Larry Elder has written a cogent column today pointing out the oddities in media coverage of the event:
CNN's "American Morning" anchor compared an upcoming Kerry campaign speech to one being given on the same day by President George W. Bush:

"President Bush heads to the swing state of Florida today. He'll be in Tampa appealing to conservative voters (emphasis added) with an address on human trafficking and then to a rally in Beckley, West Virginia. . . . And John Kerry will be in Washington speaking to the American Federation of Teachers. He's promising full funding for the No Child Left Behind Act. Later he'll hold a rally in Arlington, Virginia."

And exactly what kind of voters did Kerry aim for in his teachers union speech? "Liberal" voters, perhaps?
The strange thing is, almost every media outlet framed these two events the exact same way.

According to Elder, Judy Woodruff echoed the same theme later in the morning, saying:
This hour, John Kerry is here in Washington to accept an endorsement by the American Federation of Teachers and to criticize the president's education policy in the process. . . . Over on the Republican side, President Bush has a rally in West Virginia the next hour, after stopping in another showdown state, Florida, this morning. In Tampa, Mr. Bush urged aggressive law enforcement to combat the crime of human trafficking, an important issue for evangelical Christians, a big part of his political base.
Though Elder doesn't note it, the Associated Press played the story the same way:
Bush's remarks at the first-ever national training conference on human trafficking address an issue of vital concern to Evangelical Christians, one of the most important components of Bush's political base nationally.
Now, I was at this conference. At the most--the very most--maybe ten percent of the invited attendees were evangelical Christians. The vast majority of the attendees were either prosecutors or law enforcement officers. From our mealtime conversations, I gathered that most of them knew no more about evangelical Christianity than the media do.

I'm mystified as to how human trafficking is supposedly a "conservative" issue. If anything, it's probably a liberal issue. Tons of government agencies are involved in trying to stop it, it costs tax money, the victims are mostly women, and all sorts of "touchy-feely" (a term jokingly used by some even at the conference) social services organizations are needed to aid rescued victims. It ought to be a liberal's dream. What, are liberals in favor of human trafficking? Even John Kerry's attack line against Bush that day was that he hasn't done enough.

So how is it that Bush was speaking to a "conservative base" that day while John Kerry was simply simply seeing to it that No Child will be Left Behind?

I remember thinking at the conference that this was as non-political, non-controversial an issue as one was likely to find. Who could be against stopping human trafficking? Yet the media was insistent in portraying it as a Bush campaign effort to court conservatives.

Even if that were somehow true, why would they fail to mention the political tilt of teachers' unions?

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