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Media bias against conservatives is real, and part of the reason no one trusts the news now

It might not be conscious, but the way that reporters treat conservatives in their coverage has always shown their liberal leanings

Members of the media were shocked as he was supposedly revealed as incredibly anti-woman presidential candidate, perhaps even the most ever nominated by a major political party in the modern era. He had admitted that he reduced women to objects and the Democrats pounced, seeking to make him lose him the support of women and, in turn, the presidency.

I’m not talking about the media coverage of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and the “Access Hollywood” tape, but his predecessor, Mitt Romney.

His sin? Saying that he had “binders full of women” that he was looking at appointing to key positions were he elected president. Sure, it was an awkward way of stating a fairly innocuous fact about how elected executives begin their transition efforts — with resumes of candidates for every position under the sun —- well before an election is held. Yet, the media and commentators came for Mitt Romney and they did so with guns blazing, as he was portrayed as an anti-woman extremist… for making a concerted effort to hire women to serve in his administration as governor of Massachusetts.

The entire ordeal is part of an ever-growing list of examples in which the media seemed to be biased, whether consciously or not, against Republicans.

Conservatives were rightly upset when at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, the USA Today editorial board parroted, almost verbatim, a claim of the then president’s that his administration had been scandal-free. While this was done by the editorial board of a major newspaper, the line was repeated by many journalists, including by NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, despite Republican investigations into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, the investigation into the ATF’s Fast and Furious program and the investigation into the Obama Administration’s federal guarantees for Solyndra, among others.

The lack of acknowledgement of actual scandals that were investigated by Congress perfectly encapsulated how the vast majority of the media would not challenge Obama and had a bit too much of a cozy relationship with him. There is nothing wrong with the White House press corps being friendly with a president or his aides (these things happen, especially since they are in constant contact with one another), but it crosses a line of journalistic integrity when that relationship impacts reporters’ ability to provide objective coverage and challenge assertions made by an administration. They rightly hold Donald Trump to account — though some do so with a bit too much zeal.

Conscious bias or not, such practices do not engender trust in the media amongst conservatives. They only reinforce the belief that the media seeks to defend their ideological allies on the left and persecute those on the right while claiming to be objective.

This idea that the media is made up of unselfconsciously liberal elites who don’t even recognize the biases they have against conservative policies and conservatives in general goes back decades, to when newsrooms were more or less homogenous in nearly every way. At first, conservatives fought back by founding their own magazines; after Watergate and in the midst of the Reagan administration and liberals’ contempt for him, organizations like the Media Research Center began cataloguing the myriad examples of biased coverage, both large and small.

And there was a lot to catalogue, from opinion pages heavily weighted in favor of liberals to reportage and analysis that looks a lot more like the opinion of the writers than unbiased coverage.

Americans in general have begun to catch on: 66 percent of Americansbelieve that the media has a hard time separating fact from opinion and, according to a recent Gallup poll, 62 percent of the country believes that the press is biased one way or the other in their reporting.

So when CNN, NBC News, Fox News, or another outlet break a hard news story, there is a good chance that a large swathe of the public won’t view it as legitimate news.

This column was originally published in NBC News Think on July 29, 2018.

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