Biggest Loser on Nov. 2 Was Press, Not John Kerry, Say 21 Columns

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By: Erin Olson

Feeling a bit lost lately? You should, at least according to a compendium posted today at Jay Rosen?s popular PressThink Web log, because the biggest loser on Election Day was not John Kerry but the mainstream media.

Daniel Henninger, writing in The Wall Street Journal?s Opinion Journal, put it this way: “It is often said that the only sure winner in American politics is the media. Amid GOP victory parties or the ruined dreams of the Kerry candidacy, the one constant is that the media marches on. Maybe not this time. Big Media lost big.”

“I was interested in figuring out why so many people were saying it and surveying the range of reasons they might have had,” explained Rosen, a press critic, author, and chairman of the New York University journalism program. “It’s a little experiment in unbiased media criticism, because it’s simply presenting what these writers said. I could have commented on each one — because I’m a press critic, I have a lot to say — but I thought it might be more interesting just to let them speak.”

And speak they did. From an editorial in Investor’s Business Daily to an Associated Press article, Rosen provided excerpts and links to “the same idea,” he said, “served 21 ways: ‘Media, you lost big.'”

Most of the writers Rosen quoted expressed the opinion that liberal bias in the press became more apparent than ever during the election, even taking the stance that the media was actively trying to get Kerry elected.

The Nov. 2 Investor’s Business Daily editorial stated, “By press time last night, we weren’t sure who would be the winner of the 2004 presidential contest. But we were certain of one big loser: the media. We’ve watched in slack-jawed amazement over recent weeks as the big media, fearful of another four years for President Bush, have basically become an unpaid adjunct to the Kerry campaign.”

On Nov. 3, Glenn Reynolds posted an entry in his blog, Instapundit, titled, “Bitter, Angry Losers.” He went on to say, “No, not the Democrats, but the real losers in this election — the Old Media, still angry that they couldn’t deliver their fifteen percent.”

Peggy Noonan on Nov. 4, also in Opinion Journal, went wild over the whole idea. After affirming that ?the biggest loser was the mainstream media,? she added that conservative bloggers had slain the dragon: ?It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America. It was Agincourt. It was the yeomen of King Harry taking down the French aristocracy with new technology and rough guts. God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America.?

Vincent Fiore wrote on Nov. 7 about “Winners and Losers of Election 2004” at the ChronWatch site: “Loser: The Old Media. … Staunchly opposed to Bush throughout his first term, the prospect of a second four years in office exposed the deep-seated bias among the old media and forever revealed themselves to the public at large.”

On Nov. 15, Michael Barone wrote on, “It was a bad election for old media. … It no longer has the kind of monopoly control over political news that it enjoyed a quarter-century ago. And its efforts to help John Kerry proved counterproductive.”

Rosen told E&P that he collected and posted the links because he found the claims fascinating. “I just think it’s worth reflecting on, that’s all,” he explained. “Half my motivation was, I’m interested in what other people make of the same stuff.”

In drawing his own conclusions from the material he found, Rosen said, “I think the particular discourse of media bias is one that has become dysfunctional. I’ve said at my Web log that the more you believe it, the dumber you get.”

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