Michelle Malkin Needs a More Sophisticated Theory of Media Bias

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The problem with her current thinking is it's completely divorced from reality.

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Perhaps you've heard that Marion Barry, the former mayor of Washington D.C., said the following while celebrating his reelection to D.C. City Council Tuesday night: "We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go." Conservative pundit Michele Malkin noted the reprehensible comment on her popular blog in a post positing that press would ignore it.

Her prediction:
Michelle Malkin post.jpg
Take that, lamestream media. Always harping on racist comments by white conservatives but ignoring them when they're uttered by black liberals! This would be trenchant critique of the MSM's double-standard ... if it weren't for the fact that Barry's comments have so far been covered at outlets including The Washington Post, the Huffington Post, CNN, local NPR affiliate WAMU, The Daily Beast, the local NBC affiliate, the local CBS affiliate, Mediaite, Politico, ABC News, the local Patch site, The Washington City Paper, Yahoo News, DCist, and Democratic Underground.

So basically, no whitewash. Not even close.

Media organizations are run by humans. Bias of all kinds therefore permeates the product, including some bias that doesn't do justice to conservative insights. The right benefits from sharp-eyed pundits able to point out instances when that happens. But everyone loses when conservative audiences are casually spoon fed theories of media bias that leave them divorced from reality and make it seem as though their complaints about press coverage are rooted in ignorance. As ever, things aren't going to get better until conservatives demand more from their pundits of choice than the echoing of their own preconceived biases, the facts of the matter be damned.


Elsewhere in the bubble of movement conservatism, here's Rush Limbaugh:

"They're coming in here and they're opening up these old dirty shops, and they gotta go." Marion Barry. Former mayor. And of course he'll be perfectly free to say this. There will be no criticism. It's impossible for somebody like Marion Barry to be a racist.
And back in the real world:

Faced with a torrent of criticism from his colleagues and other city residents, Marion Barry apologized Thursday afternoon for his Election Day suggestion that Asian business owners in his ward "ought to go."

... One Facebook page appeared Wednesday, demanding that Barry apologize to the Asian community. By 1 p.m., it had more than 72 "likes." One of his D.C. Council colleagues, Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), took to Twitter late Wednesday to decry the remarks as "deplorable." Five suburban Maryland lawmakers of Asian descent -- Democratic delegates Sam Arora, Kumar Barve, Susan Lee, Aruna Miller and Kris Valderrama -- also called on Barry to apologize.
And here's a second story by The Washington Post -- which has written many more about the story generally -- about even more people criticizing Barry:

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District's nonvoting member of Congress and a fellow civil rights veteran, told Barry that she was "stunned by the offensive nature of the comments," according to a statement. Norton, the statement said, "reminded Barry of how long she had known him and the values they first shared when they were students together in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the South fighting for racial justice." Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) and several other Democratic council colleagues released statements or gave interviews repudiating Barry's comments.

So once again, the conservative audience is fed completely bogus information by a talk-radio host they trust.
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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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