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Why are so many reporters liberal?
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You heard it here first.

Or perhaps 50 or 100 times before.

Many reporters are liberal.

I just encountered an acquaintance. He’s a member of the National Rifle Association, firing range regular, attendee at major gun show conventions.

After brief “how are you,” and “what are you up to,” came the expected. “Boy, you guys are really doing a job of protecting Obama.”

I’m hardly in the loop these days, but I do read a couple of newspapers each day and the Wall Street Journal once or twice a week.

“What, are you kidding?” I asked. “Have you been reading the New York Times (often left-leaning) lately?” The Times, second largest newspaper in the nation, has been highly critical of the president.


“Well, that’s just lately,” he said.


“What about the Lodi News-Sentinel, the Stockton Record, and the Manteca Bulletin? Hardly hotbeds of liberalism.”

“But those are Valley newspapers,” he said cynically.


I didn’t throw in the Wall Street Journal, by far the largest circulation newspaper in the nation, whose political philosophy is far from liberal. 

OK, how do you spot a liberal?

1. They are for universal health care.

2. They oppose the war in Afghanistan and back the President’s policy of “no boots on the ground.”

3. They back a woman’s right to abortion.

4. They support gay marriage.

5. They strongly back progressive income tax legislation.

6. They support strong environmental protections.

7. They favor stricter gun controls.

While reporters and many editors are liberal, their publishers and the corporations that run the newspapers are not.

I recall one instance where our editorial board decided 4 to 1 against endorsing George W. Bush for re-election. Our publisher, who had not yet voted, weighed in with his four votes, saying, “I feel President Bush has done a good job and deserves re-election,” thereby giving Bush our endorsement.

Some mask their leanings by enrolling as “Independents.” So, for 40 years, I played the cards close to the vest and tried to place myself and our newspaper in the middle.


It didn’t always work. One person said he was cancelling his subscription because of our political philosophy. Incredulous I asked why, saying we tried to be balanced and run in the middle of the road.

“But that’s just it. I want a newspaper that’s more to the right.”

Another case: A subscriber from Tracy cancelled, calling me a fascist bigot, decrying our right-wing editorials.

Most newspapers, including the News-Sentinel and the Bulletin, offer some alternative comment.

The Times offers the brilliant David Brooks who says he has seen President Obama “becoming increasingly pissed off” at Republicans, Democrats and the media during his second term as he’s become increasingly aware of the limits of his office.

During the president’s first term he was carried on a chariot with his chief of staff throwing rose petals before him.

Now, Obama’s people tell Brooks, “We really like you. It’s so sad you’re a total idiot.”

Before Brooks, there was the incomparable William Safire, once a Nixon speechwriter, and amazingly, a guy who grew up in the heavily Democratic Bronx. As a conservative Republican (he wrote Spiro Agnew’s infamous line, ‘Nattering nabobs of negativity’), his columns and novels were widely read. Writing weekly, he became the country’s leading grammarian. Safire became a Pulitzer Prize winner and was awarded the presidential “Medal of Freedom.”

Why are there so many liberal news people?

Perhaps one answer is that young people look at it as a noble calling or glamorous profession. Others see it as a chance to help society or even save the world. Meanwhile their conservative brethren think more of economics, the business world and making money.

Tom A. Peters, writing in the New Republic seemed to fall on the sword of anti-journalism.

“Covering wars for a polarized nation has destroyed the civic mission I once found in journalism.

“Why risk it all to get the facts for people who increasingly prefer to seek out the information they want and brand the stories that don’t conform to their opinion as biased or inaccurate.

“Without a higher purpose, what is a career a reporter? It may count among the so-called “glamour jobs” sought after by recent graduates. But on career websites newspaper reporting is listed as the second worst job in America based on factors such as stress, pay and employment uncertainty. Janitors and garbage collectors all scored higher.

Even if you love the work, it’s hard not to get worn down by a job that sometimes requires you risk life and limb for readers who wonder if you suffer all the downsides and hazards just to support some hidden agenda.