by Ed West
Friday, 19
March 2021
Spotted
14:39

Why are journalists so Left-wing?

The problem is particularly acute in America
by Ed West

I’ve learned so much from Twitter, about subjects I was quite ignorant about before; the world of Byzantium for example, or the beautiful history of early skyscrapers.

Most of all, though, I’ve learned how much worse American journalists are than our own commentariat — something I wasn’t really aware of before social media. I just assumed that the country’s newspapers were quite dull; you had to get to paragraph 32 of a New York Times article to actually understand what the story was about. Which is why I thought that its journalists didn’t share the sub-clinical levels of narcissism and sociopathy found in the UK variant. Oh, was I wrong.

One reason American journalists are so insufferable is because they are, by and large, quite extreme. People with terrible personalities do tend to latch onto quite extreme ideologies, or extreme ideologies give people the green light to behave appallingly. This has been borne out by yet another study, although one using an unusual method, reiterating the blindingly obvious: that American journalists are much more Left-wing than the public at large.

In Britain, more than half of journalists identify as being on the Left and just under a quarter on the Right, and a similar pattern is found in several western countries.

Journalists have often tended to be on the Left – some of the most feared murderers of the French Revolution were hacks – but there has definitely been an acceleration. In the 1960s the trend was about 2 to 1, but by the 2000s as little as 7% identified as conservative, compared to 33% of the US public, a figure repeated in a report a decade later.

Rather unsurprisingly, polls show American trust in the media declining, a trend that accelerated in 2008 when swathes of Americans came to believe journalists were conspiring to get Obama elected. I don’t think Donald Trump’s open hostility to journalists did him any harm, nor do I think it will harm the prospects of any future populist.

The danger is that journalism covers a variety of roles, from the people whose job it is to uncover corruption and hold politicians to account, to people employed to offer their opinions; in recent years the line between the two has become increasingly blurred, which poses obvious problems. That is because journalists perform the role of a clerisy, equivalent to a priesthood; all societies need a commentariat, but the problem is that traditionally priesthoods were constrained by hierarchies which prevented charismatic but unbalanced preachers from pushing too dangerous an idea; in more recent times, the pre-digital journalistic establishment played a similar restraining role.

Where there is no clear hierarchy, there is instead ruthless competition to acquire the most edgy, high-status opinion, all in an industry with declining wages and high-cost urban living. The result is Fisherian runaway progressivism, with competitors displaying the opinion equivalents of peacock’s feathers — impressive to look but grotesquely exaggerated.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
110 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

Having been a newspaper junkie for most of my adult life, I have practically given up on straight reportage in print, as well as BBC News on TV and Radio.
I pretty much only read opinion pieces now. I read from a broad range of sources that cover the political spectrum because I’ve realised I much prefer to read writers who are overtly giving their opinions rather than supposedly “objective” reportage. Most mainstream media purports to be offering the latter whilst smuggling deeply partisan opinion into their output – rather dishonestly.
Of course it is the duty of a journalist, editor and publisher to choose words carefully and ensure they report factually but who judges where the line between a newspaper’s narrative (that often borders on propaganda) and fake news should be drawn?
When I read a story in the Guardian, or Telegraph or Times – any reputable newspaper- I can be reasonably confident that the basic “facts” of the story are accurate – but that often only gives me a fraction of the picture. The rest of it is supplied through the narrative, the framing of the message – it is that which tells a reader how to interpret the ‘facts’. With a shift in narrative the facts of a story can be presented in a radically different light.
The Guardian, the BBC, along with every other newspaper and news outlet in this country, presents facts and statistics that back up the narrative they wish to promote. They also fail to report those facts and stats that might counter the narrative they wish to promote.
Are these deliberate falsehoods? You could argue that either way, but journalists know only too well that there are two sides (at the very least) to most stories and they choose to present the side that most closely fits their own world view, or the world view of their newspaper or indeed the world view of their readers.
Every day the same event, the same speech, the same policy initiative can be covered by the Guardian and by the Telegraph, with the “factual” points of the story presented, but it is in the framing of that presentation, in what details a journalist (or Editor) chooses to include or omit, that the narrative takes shape. Thus readers of those two different stories – based on the same facts but presented within a different narrative -can come away with an understanding that is 180 degrees out from one another. You could argue that isn’t ‘fake’ news because there are no absolute untruths involved – but if the same facts can be employed by either side of the argument to bolster their own version of the truth and undermine the other side’s version of the truth then how is it different?
I read op-eds from several sources a day and try to pick my way through the inherent biases of each to try and find the truths of a story and form my own opinion. But even that doesn’t get you to objective “Truth” because, of course I myself read those stories with a subjective eye, how could I not? We all have our own in-built bias towards what fits our world view.
Paul Mason claimed in the Guardian that, “The clearest difference between the liberal-democratic newspapers – including this one – and those of the right is that the former have no overarching narrative,” I think he may well genuinely believe that. Which is rather terrifying.
When explaining away Brexit or a Tory success at the polls, bien pensants often talk of the right wing press brainwashing their readers with their narrative. I would suggest they merely reflect the opinions of their readers. (If you think the former then ask yourself, do you believe what you believe simply because the Guardian told you so, or do you read the Guardian because it reflects your worldview?)
Anyway, I’ve found it better for my sanity to read several writers all (openly) giving their opinion on a topic. It offers more of a rounded picture than one can ever hope to get from a single source in todays media climate.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Reading widely is the only way to understand the range of opinions in the population, and to ensure you aren’t fed partial accounts. By their nature articles are always condensed summaries, and bias is generated by what’s left out, not by the truth or falseness of what’s included.
(And if anyone from Unherd is reading, for comments with lots of paragraphs, please add the following piece of CSS to the theme stylesheet
.wpd-comment-text p br { margin-bottom:1em; }
to properly space out the text)

Sean MacSweeney
Sean MacSweeney
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I like the website (also as many unherd articles as I can) https://www.allsides.com/unbiased-balanced-news

Lee Floyd
Lee Floyd
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Paul Mason is a perfect example of someone who used to be normal, once. But latterly, and especially under Corbyn, his extremism came to the fore. It wouldn’t be too much to characterise him as a willing tool of any extreme administration where ‘only obeying orders’ would be the excuse

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Floyd

I find it hard to believe that Paul Mason was ever ‘normal’.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I remember reading his review of that Greek lefty in the Literary Review, saying that Greece offered the prospect of a new, vibrant revolutionary dialectic. Imagine ny surprise when I found he was the economics editor for channel 4. Btw, he never apologised for being mistaken.

David Waring
David Waring
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Floyd

How true his pro EU stance on EUactiv is quite nauseous.

G H
G H
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Well written. You have articulated my own views on the modern media very well. Or is this just my own bias? Thanks.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Agreed completely. I read Slate, Guardian, FoxNews, SkyNews, and TAC. Since I’m in America, I also watch France24 and NHK, since my domestic press does a terrible job covering anything actually important internationally.

That’s a combination that I figure can get me somewhere near Truth.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
1 year ago

France 24 was very very good a few years back. Not seen it recently. Came across it via BBC world service (pish), Al Jazeera (not bad but clearly pro-Gulf State/anti-Israel/Western bias).

Trevor Q
Trevor Q
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

This mirrors my own experience and journey entirely.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

When I read a story in the Guardian, or Telegraph or Times – any reputable newspaper- I can be reasonably confident that the basic “facts” of the story are accurate

You cannot be confident of that at all.
Most “mainstream media” outlets in the UK and US will happily publish outright lies – not to mention get basic facts wrong as a result of ignorance or laziness.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

Most of all, though, I’ve learned how much worse American journalists are than our own commentariat

So what you are saying is, if we export Polly Toynbee and Owen Jones to America, then the commentariat in both countries would be improved, amIright? Win-win!

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Hahaha!

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I think we’d all be better off if they exported Polly Toynbee-in-her-Bonnet and Madam Jones to the other side of the world myself. Apologies in advance to our friends in Australia.

Matt Spencer
Matt Spencer
1 year ago

Jonesy will be packed off the Manis Island forthwith. We do not want him at all.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Crowdfunding the airfare starts here.

Though it would be MUCH more egalitarian if they worked their passage on a tramp steamer

George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

can we export them to Tehran, the locals could give them a rooftop tower of the city

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

Maybe it’s because left wing people tend to be a little louder and more eager to communicate their thoughts and opinions. Conversely, conservatives are more likely to keep their opinions to themselves. No prizes for guessing which type of person is more drawn to journalism.

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

And just as an afterthought: why on earth would you voluntarily spend time on Twitter? Seems like an act of self-harm to me.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Exactly. I don’t agree with Ed West about Twitter. I avoid Twitter because Twitter is the abode of the BOFI.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

What does BOFI mean? Google is telling me this stands for Banks and Other Financial Institutes but I’m thinking that isn’t what you mean…

Emperor Caligula
Emperor Caligula
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Bunch Of Friggin Idiots?

Last edited 1 year ago by Emperor Caligula
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

Close.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

BOFI is like RTFMYFI – which is a common usage in IT, stands for “Read The Fine Manual, You Fine Individual”.

Last edited 1 year ago by Prashant Kotak
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

OK, I think I catch the drift 🙂

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

To Hell in an handcart with Twitter. Possible one of the most covert evil things of our times

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

True. But the elephant in the room – unaddressed by Mr West – is that the left, once it gains a preponderance of personnel within any institution, will shamelessly pack that institution with fellow travellers and quislings.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

and it will harangue and harass all perceived heretics until those folks leave. This isn’t new.

David George
David George
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Just how bad is it? Search: Bari Weiss resignation letter.
Excerpt: “Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.
I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  David George

Great quote: “the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space”
I would add: “just like Facebook, Twitter, and politics in general.”

Graeme Dent
Graeme Dent
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I guess thats like #FBPE?

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The long march through the institutions.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

You mean the BBC

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

often, I find that left-wing people think their opinions are the only ones that are legitimate.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

often, I find that people think their opinions are the only ones that are legitimate.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

No, it is a particular – possibly defining – characteristic of the left.
Just check out Twitter for a couple of minutes.

simon-curran
simon-curran
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I’ve began reading quite a lot about left wing politics in the past few years and it is just as terrifying as the far right at it’s extremes.The same intolerance, hatred and violence exists. It’s just the other side of the coin.

Last edited 1 year ago by simon-curran
Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“…left wing people tend to be… more eager to communicate their thoughts and opinions. Conversely, conservatives are more likely to keep their opinions to themselves. “

Not on here they aren’t!

No prizes for guessing which type of person is more drawn to journalism.

You could argue that unHerd is a worthy attempt to give right wing writers the space that is denied to them in outlets such as the Telegraph the Times, the Mail, the Express, the FT, the Spectator, and so on. No, really, you could. And since this is the Internet, quite possibly someone actually will.
But if conservatives are so shy, who exactly is writing so many right wing views in the comments sections here on unHerd? Maybe we only needed a safe space to allow conservatives to speak?

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

Not on here they aren’t!

“On here” being a public comment section, with the explicit purpose of making commentary on the articles above so it sort of comes with the territory that people communicate their thoughts and opinions, n’est-ce pas? (Or in short, no sh¡t Sherlock.)

the Telegraph the Times, the Mail, the Express, the FT, the Spectator,

A wildly disparate list of papers with precious little in common. I’m much to the right of Marie Antoinette and i never read the Mail because i find it unreadable – the Express pretty much the same. The Times / Telegraph are broadly centre-woke on most issues, not to startle the horses. FT more to the left. The speccy comes out the best of the lot.

But if conservatives are so shy

What on earth made you to assume conservatives being “shy” from “more likely to keep their opinions to themselves“? If i eat a bar of chocolate all by myself, it’s not because i’m too ‘shy’ to share it around.
It’s just that normal people don’t make a fuss and a noise, if they can help it. Unlike the left, who are perpetually itching to chant, shriek, march, protest, condemn, demand, chant, shriek some more, screech, chant, shriek, loot, burn some rubbish bins, chant.
Nothing to do with shyness.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

> > > “conservatives are more likely to keep their
> > > opinions to themselves. “
> > Not on here they aren’t!
> “On here” being a public comment section,
> with the explicit purpose of making commentary…
Quite. And it belies the notion that conservatives are inherently likely to keep their views to themselves. “Mustn’t grumble” is more a generational thing than a political thing.

As for:

“the left… are perpetually itching to chant, shriek, march, protest, condemn, demand, chant, shriek some more, screech, chant, shriek, loot, burn some rubbish bins, chant”

…your irrational and extreme tirade (not to mention lumping everyone left of The Daily Telegraph together) suggests I should not have bothered trying to communicate. At least it explains why you find The Telegraph centrist.
Perhaps you need to get out more, philosophically speaking.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul N
Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

…your irrational and extreme tirade

Really??
Where have you been during the past five years? (Or make it ten, even.) Hardly ever a week goes by without newsreel of some fat orcs shrieking that obnoxious, traditional ‘da-doodah! da-doodah! da-dooda-dooda-doodah!‘ leftist battlecry with whichever set of words contorted to it. On Thursday it was teh wymmyn, other times the bliks, the brexit, the XR, the last GE, the orange man, the whatever. Then of course the London lootings opening the previous decade.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

Unherd is hardly right-wing. Pretty much centrist I would say. The fact the you think this site is right-wing shows how far left society has become.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Anything that is not acceptable to the left is labelled right-wing. We are the silent majority and eventually the left will annoy or alienate enough people that the majority will feel able to voice their opinions in public without fearing they will lose their jobs or be’cancelled’

Jonesy Moon
Jonesy Moon
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

in America there is no silent majority of conservatives; that was proven in the last election. it was a great disappointment but at least we know the truth now.

G H
G H
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

You could be right. My own theory is that small ‘c’ conservatives have more interesting and constructive things to get on with in their lives.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  G H

It was a huge generalisation, but just something that occurred to me that would make sense.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

From my experience it is because those that hold leftwing views are not afflicted by doubt either about their views or their moral superiority.
Scratch the surface however and there is little real foundation to them or their views. in fact thinly veiled it is all about them.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

This is not new. It’s just worse and it is more open. In the past few weeks alone, the New York Times ran the baseless claim of a Capitol cop being beaten to death, and the rest of the echo chamber repeated the claim without question. It did not happen. More recently, the Washington Post had to backtrack on a story that quoted Trump as saying things he never said in a discussion with Georgia elections people. And there is the whole Russia narrative that was breathlessly repeated as irrefutable truth.
Bias itself, however, or even perceived bias predates both cable and the Internet. The left has plans while the right had schemes. The imbalance is what gave rise to talk radio and later, to Fox, which to this day is the vampire to the journalistic left.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The reason for this is American newspapers are local-a lot come from New York-which is a democrat city , they are playing to their audience. Most British newspapers have to aim their stories to appeal to the whole country.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

But the broadsheet press in the UK has long since ceased to appeal to the whole country. Circa 2002 I happened to be reading the papers in the library of the small town in which I grew up. (I was living in the badlands of Belsize Park at the time and buying the Independent every day). I suddenly realised that there was nothing in those papers that was of any interest to the people of the town in which I grew up, or to the people of any other similar town. Little wonder that the circulation of these papers has been in steady or catastrophic decline.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Exactly the same in our local library-who only took The Independent and The Guardian-which no-one read but me , the Librarian then took them home for catlitter., I always wondered why they didn’t order The Times and The Daily Telegraph as the local newsagents sold copies of these but none of the former. It is said The Guardian only exists because the BBC buys so many copies and the libraries probably make up the rest of the sales.

George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

The Guardian – twice as absorbent as Sanicat
I’m a glad to hear that The Guardian does actually have a practical use

Last edited 1 year ago by George Glashan
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The press often edits quotes to present the worst possible interpretation. This sin of omission seems to be how the ramblings of Trump are reported. Real politicians ensure the quote snippet won’t hurt.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
1 year ago

The malady is circular and exponential in that it feeds on itself.
As Mr West here points out, there is frantic competition among today’s journos to be the ‘edgiest’, ‘toughest’, most achievingly aggressive of interviewers and commentators – which pretty much leaves the journalism of seeking out and telling the facts to the public lost in a distant ditch far behind.
In turn, this syndrome has by now, I think, made journalism a career of choice for people who are bullies.
After all, it is like Twitter on steroids. If you are a bully, you can have the huge joyous buzz of setting people onto one another in an ochlocratic rampage of cancel-culture denunciation.
Nearly all of the USA’s journalism (at the national level) is now horrible; fully on a par with that of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. It is mindless, untruthful, misrepresenting things 24/7; and this quite deliberately.
British journalism is only half as bad; but that is still bad enough.
Donald Trump was a very flawed man who did and said a lot of good things but was also very much a silly-billy. Yet consider how all but universally he was denounced in the British media and – more significantly – how little any broadcaster or publication has ever bothered to ask themselves the question: Why did 63 million Americans vote for him in 2016? (especially when you consider that numbers in the ‘Swing States’ voted for him then who had previously voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012).
They don’t want to know what made people so desperate with the options from ‘respectable’ politicians that they turned to a maverick outsider instead.
Whether owing to their corporate ownerships dictating propaganda through their editors, or the sheer frantic Leftism of the journalists themselves, most of today’s reporters and commentators in the mainstream media have become a part of the current Occidental ruling Establishment.
If anyone comes along to challenge that globalist Davos-oriented ruling caste, the media go after him or her like rabid dogs.
If Marine le Pen wins the next presidential election in France, I hope she is ready for Total Trashing by all media and an all-out attempt to subvert her presidency and her policies by the Deep State at home and abroad.
Hopefully she has learned something from Mr Trump’s time in office; and would make far fewer mistakes than his torrent of unnecessary blunders.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

Journalists now almost exclusively from middle class backgrounds, which as we know tend to be much more left leaning (by which I mean the new identity politics left, rather than the more traditional working class labour left) and this is reflected in the media.

Local newspapers used to offer poorer kids a route into journalism, from which the best ones could work their way up to the national ones giving a broader range of views. However since the demise of local papers, the only way into journalism for most now is unpaid internships, which for obvious reasons largely discounts those whose families don’t have the money to support them through.

This has led to almost a kind of groupthink or echo chamber amongst the press, which also ends up discouraging those with a different viewpoint from joining the profession in the first place.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Important point. When I was in my final year at Uni in 1983 I briefly considered a career in journalism. A mature student I knew put me in touch with an editor at the local newspaper who invited me in for a chat. Why was I interested in journalism? he asked. I gave him the usual leftist spiel about wanting to enlighten the masses and save the world. He listened patiently, and then said, “Sure, but I’m looking for someone to write about house fires and car crashes that kill people.”
But that was then. I doubt if anyone enters journalism doing that these days.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
1 year ago

My best guess would be that this is just class solidarity at play. Journalism is a solidly middle class profession and is more so than ever, with the decline in social mobility, meaning many journalist are the sons and daughters of other journalists or the professional classes.

What we today refer to as left wing, is largely the double liberalism of economic and social liberalism, with the odd dollop of pseudo socialist, pork barrel politics thrown in. Writing off the student debt of the richer half of society is now somehow considered a socialist policy?

Ultimately foreign goods and foreign labour have enriched the middle class whilst driving down wages and eliminating jobs for the lower classes. Whilst, diversity drives typically mean excluding working class white applicants in favour of ethically diverse, middle class ones, protecting the middle class industries from competition. It’s no wonder Journalist support these policies.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matthew Powell
Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

“What we today refer to as left wing, is largely the double liberalism of economic and social liberalism”

If you think economic liberalism is left wing, that may explain why you see the left everywhere in the media.
While left and right wing parties may be socially liberal (Dave Cameron and Kier Starmer, for example), the defining difference between them is that the right is economically liberal (as in favouring deregulation and opposing market intervention, public ownership of enterprise and even modestly redistributive taxation). The left, on the other hand, is not.
Under Tony Blair, Labour moved rightward (some would say to “the centre”), and Margaret Thatcher is said to have referred to this as her greatest achievement. But economic liberalism is in no way left wing.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

As an economist and historian, I agree with you. But it doesn’t change the fact that “economic liberal” to most people means someone who favors government intervention in the economy, not someone who opposes it.

The fact that it meant the opposite from the Enlightenment until 70 years ago just confuses things.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
1 year ago

I stand by my description of the left as currently being economic liberals. Apart from Corbyn’s attempt to turn back the clock, there are only a minority of socialists in the modern left today. The majority of the contemporary left support EU membership (historically the socialist left were opposed) and it’s liberal internal system of free trade, free movement of people, and regulation which prohibits intervention in the market. Where the left had differed from the right under this system, was they preferred a larger state sector, greater regulation and higher welfare but they were still operating within the same liberal economic model.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

(but who needs logic or examples from real life when you have a downvote button)

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago

Journalists have become a courtier class.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

This is the nub of the matter.
Best comment of all.
Hearty thanks!!

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Whatever, most of us gave up on the media class a long time ago, just as we gave up on the political class a long time ago. And, in truth, there is little or no difference between the two classes. For the most part they are both devoid of both intelligence and integrity.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

They feed on each other incestuously.
Most younger journalists now take as definitive whatever the pols tell them to think.
And anyway they are both part of the same ruling caste in the western world.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

More ‘Tools Of’ rather than ‘part of’.

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
1 year ago

The lefty/woke/progressive perspective is one based on conformity and bullying. The perfect analogy is the Emperors New Clothes fable where everyone goes along with the lie for fear of not fitting in. That’s why most people whose livelihood depends on being in the public eye (politicians, entertainers, journalists, etc) plant themselves firmly on the left or are ‘shy’ to disclose any right wing views. It’s the bullying nature of the virtue-signalling mob, now amplified with disproportionate power through the likes of twitter.

kevinbroad
kevinbroad
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

Academia is the same if you are right wing you really need to keep your mouth shut or you wont get on. you will be accused something and bullied happened to me (more than once)

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
1 year ago

When the Independent was first launched some decades ago, it used the advertising tag line “a newspaper not a views paper”. Not a bad thing for newspapers to aspire to.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

Agreed, but is there a single paper that even comes close to that aspiration?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

If only the Independent had remained true to its original premise. I gave up on it circa 2002.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fraser Bailey
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

40 years ago, liberal bias in American media could reasonably be tied to self-selection bias in who majors in journalism. It’s a stereotype to say journalists and writers are more touchy-feely and emotional, but it’s also not entirely wrong. A conservative majors in business to provide a stable living for his family; a progressive majors in journalism to make the world better for her family. (And yes, the pronouns are intentional. There’s a large historic gender difference between those two majors, which is smaller but still significant even today.)

http://www.randalolson.com/wp-content/uploads/percent-bachelors-degrees-women-usa.png

It isn’t surprising that a press populated with college-educated journalism majors will be more left-leaning than the general population. But that doesn’t explain the last 10 years.

Since about 2010, the causes of journalism bias seem to have shifted. It’s no longer self-selection passively skewing reporters’ views of the world; reporters are now actively skewing their coverage based on their (and their editors) political ideology. They will insist they’re not doing this, of course. They will claim to be “defending the voiceless” or “countering systemic racism” or (my personal favorite) “fighting hetero-patriarchy” — all the time blind to the fact that such statements are not refutations of the charge of intentional bias, but are actually attempted justification for (and therefore confirmation of) such intentional bias.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brian Villanueva
Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
1 year ago

Journalists suffer from the greatest of moral weaknesses, being venal. They think they matter. And the believe that they can change the world- by revealing the world as it is, by holding truth to power, by giving voice to the voiceless. You combine the two conceits and you get left wing ideology.
journalist should be highly polished mirrors, reflecting society accurately. Instead they believe they are lenses to create focus on something they think is important. Lenses distort.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

In my experience journalists seem to make it up as they go along.
For example during the tortuous period leading up to the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ one Simon Jenkins then about 57 wrote an emotive ‘Leader’ for the revered London Times.
He decided to refer to a notorious episode of Anglo Irish history, the execution of the Englishman, Erskine Childers at Beggar’s Bush Barracks, Dublin in 1922.
(Childers off course was already famous for his exciting novel ‘The Riddle of the Sands’.)

Jenkins retold the story of Childers shaking the hands of the firing squad and inviting them to “stand a bit closer lads”, probably to facilitate a ‘ clean kill’ from his young , inexperienced and trembling executioners. He also stated that these executioners were the British Army!

In fact this was an outright lie, because as Jenkins must have known the British had already vacated Ireland and the execution was carried out by the Free State Government.

Jenkins had read English at St John’s, Oxford. By the late 90’s he was a senior journalist at The Times, and it is inconceivable that he was not completely au fait with Irish affairs which had dominated the Mediia for the previous 25 years.
So why did he do it?

Oddly, one Margaret Macmillan, historian, did exactly the same thing nearly twenty years later in her ‘Magnum Opus.’ Truly astonishing.

tony deakin
tony deakin
1 year ago

It’s very intriguing that Childers aligned himself with de Valera & co in the Green-on-Green Civil War (hence his subsequent execution by Free State combatants) given the Brit Ripping Yarn like quality of ‘The Riddle of The Sands’.
(For some reason I keep appearing as ‘Tony’ on these BTL discussion forums.)

Last edited 1 year ago by tony deakin
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  tony deakin

Yes indeed, Churchill for one was outraged!

BTW: Beggars’s Bush Barracks still stands, although now it’s some type of Community Centre. When I visited last, the Caretaker was particularly knowledgeable about the events of 1922.

Emperor Caligula
Emperor Caligula
1 year ago

If a “journalist” one-ups another “journalist” in the ongoing race to the bottom but nobody reads it, does it matter?

No. So let’s focus on achieving that goal as quick as possible rather than lament the impossible task of making idiots cease being idiots. Only frustration and disappointment awaits down that path.

David J
David J
1 year ago

For media hacks, also read educationalists, where genteel lecturers have denounced my firmly MOR views as being ‘right wing.’
Of course, they have moved the goal posts to suit themselves, rather as atom spies in Cold War days must have done. Nothing like pulling the wool over your own eyes: it saves others the effort.

Last edited 1 year ago by David J
kevinbroad
kevinbroad
1 year ago

I used to work at Cambridge university in the tearoom all the academics were really wealthy, privately educated, didn’t live on planet earth and were really left wing. The technicians were much more realistic about the world. And they hated me working class and centre right

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
1 year ago

He pretty much did. The last paragraph is not a bad explanation at all. If they were right wing it would be tougher to push extreme views, and they need to push extreme views to get attention, which they need to survive.

Last edited 1 year ago by Colin Colquhoun
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

It seems to me that the last paragraph explains the extreme opinions, but not necessarily why those opinions are extreme left-wing opinions as opposed to extreme right-wing opinions.
Whatever, we all stopped reading years ago and we’re not going back.

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Well because you can espouse extreme views on the left and get away with it more easily. Genuinely extreme right wing views really are racist etc. Extreme left views, at least at the moment, have a guise of being about justice even though they are often quite jingoistic and bigoted when you look closer. Whether it is left or right, the last para does a good job of explaining it as a self reinforcing cascade effect. I liked the analysis. It’s more about journalism than politics.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

Agreed. The internet destroyed the traditional, advertising-based revenue model of most newspapers. For most, the only way to survive is to create an echo chamber for people with a certain set of political and social beliefs. They are no longer newspapers in the traditional sense; they’re more like the mouthpiece for a political/social faction. That trend will only end if society as a whole becomes less divided, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
For anyone who might be interested, here is a link to the Allsides site that attempts to identify top news stories and present the opinions of newspapers across the political spectrum so that a reader can gain a balanced perspective.
https://www.allsides.com/unbiased-balanced-news

Mark H
Mark H
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Thanks for that – looks like a great way to get a balanced picture without literally reading multiple news sources.

DA Johnson
DA Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

J Bryant’s analysis is the most likely explanation for today’s journalism bias. Appealing to the broadest range of the reading public is no longer profitable, so newspapers focus their appeal to one loyal faction.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

“Genuinely extreme right wing views really are racist etc. Extreme left views, at least at the moment, have a guise of being about justice”

The Left are racist as possible, but against their own society, culture, history, as they represent a belief system which is against all that is decent and normal traditionally – and thus must attack their own culture and people as it is not compatable with their twisted logic. Take Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot – they first had to destroy their own past, history, culture, and society to make their evil one.

Anyone who knows how sick the education system is knows how the Left hates its own society and wishes to erase its past and culture to make a new one. Anyone who knows the MSM knows how it is all to twist and cancel the decency our society came from.

Simon Burch
Simon Burch
1 year ago

‘Genuinely extreme right wing views really are racist etc. Extreme left views, at least at the moment, have a guise of being about justice……’

Agreed and I think that this is why, nowadays, the extremes of the Left are so much more dangerous than those of the Right. With an emphasis on justice and equality, the Far Left finds it easy to attract the young and the naive to its cause. The Far Right, on the other hand, is by-and-large acknowledged to be beyond the pale. Of course, history shows us that the result of implementing either programme is the same ie economic failure, oppression and tyranny.

vince porter
vince porter
1 year ago

As they age, the Left of today will, like generations before them, realized they’ve been drinking from a poisoned chalice filled by idealistic youth led by pedestrian academics masquerading as intellectuals..

Julia Wallis-Martin
Julia Wallis-Martin
1 year ago

A great many journalists are nowhere near as left-wing as they purport to be. As one such well-known journalist explained to me some years ago, had he not expressed left-wing leanings at interview, he wouldn’t have been offered a place at the University of his choice to read journalism; nor would he have managed to get a foothold on the ladder of employment. He is far from alone.

Michael J. McEachern
Michael J. McEachern
1 year ago

In the recent past, say 1960’s – 1980’s, journalism had some remaining fealty to the truth. This was because scrutiny by readers and fellow journalists could reveal career-damaging gross errors or falsehoods, so fear of being found out constrained irresponsible journalism. That has all changed. Writers compose and newspapers print what the left thinks the truth should be and vigorously defend their lies. Of course, people know this and have stopped reading digital and paper version of formerly respected publications (NY Times; I mean you!).

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
1 year ago

American journalists are much more Left-wing than the public at large”
So are UK journalists! And I don’t think Canadian or many South American journalists are.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
1 year ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Canadian journalism is FAR to the left of US journalism, with a few tiny exceptions.

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
1 year ago

To me it’s the difference between the public and private domain. Leftism, by definition, is a kind of group-think, and there are real-world consequences for not towing the virtue-signalling line in public. In the private space of a voting booth however..
It’s really fundamental. It’s almost about the psychological need to be liked. I’ve always thought you have to be a morally mature individual to stand against that flow, and have convictions that go beyond the need to be accepted/liked.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alex Wilkinson
Greg Greg
Greg Greg
1 year ago

One wonders. When there were but three major news outlets, journalists were responsible to appeal to a wide swath of the American public. Market forces forced them to do so. However, with the multiplication of outlets, each outlet, to stay in business, had to identify, attract and retain it’s slice of the pie in order to survive. Thus, ‘journalism’, is no longer a euphemism for ‘informing the public.’ Rather, it’s become synonymous with appealing to (indulging) a select portion of the public (it’s market share). The irony is delicious. Having once sought the truth, it now seeks to distort the truth for the sake of it’s audience (ie money), all the while believing that the prostitution it now engages in is actually a noble calling, yet blissfully unaware that the communism that it advocates is actually animated by capitalism.

Last edited 1 year ago by Greg Greg
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
1 year ago

It is simply a human wiring/mindset.
For the same reason conservatives dominate police/intel/military.
And we have conservative talk radio (insane), Fox News (insane), Breitbart, WSJ etc.
The real problem (aside from a liberal bias in media, education and creative industries) is the “merger” of opinion pieces with news reporting.
And if we have a clear separation (WSJ) it leads to a schizophrenic scene where WJS’s journalist would insist they had nothing to do with the Editorial Board of WSJ.
Nothing new about it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Smith
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

police and military are increasingly left wing.
Why?
Because leftwingers are political 24/7 and are attracted to administrative institutions and the power they can wield there, and all the other normal people you think of as “conservatives” are more likely to be doing productive jobs that actually add value to the nation.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

At least in America, our military is increasingly woke-leftists, not right leaning.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Have you got women in your Ohio class subs yet?

George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago

i think there’s a distinction to be made between peacetime military and wartime military. During peacetime post WW2 the US Army has been explicitly used as means for social change within America, taking disparate people , usually poor , of all colours and creeds , from all over America and forcing them to work together, and it was good at it too. But its not been on a war footing since the world trade tower attacks and Gulf War 2. its social engineering role , which it always had, has been pushed further and further by as you say increasingly left wing politicians. All generals who came through the ranks in peacetime are essentially political appointments too.

G Worker
G Worker
1 year ago

But framing even the bare bones of the answer is beyond most of us. It has subtle existential and psychological elements, historiographical elements, and historical elements, all of which conspire to create the slippery sociological slope towards a unipolar world of “educated” opinion. In my own view the most fundamental root lies in Judaism’s conception of the gentile at the End Times, and runs through Christianity into liberalism and its socialistic expressions. The subject is vast, and it is no surprise at all that mere men should be swept up in its most generic invitation to self-conflict and war on the nature of one’s kin.
There is a solution to it. Martin Heidegger lit the way, but even his massive contribution (which assigns the cause of our woes to the Platonics) has long been sucked into the marxian maw of post-structuralism.

Last edited 1 year ago by G Worker
G Worker
G Worker
1 year ago
Reply to  G Worker
  1. Because the educated class is most susceptible to the general dynamic of conflict with self and nature which arises from a very great part of the Western canon, and expresses in history. The ineducates are protected, to a degree, by their cleaving to their natures in the absence of a refined cultural and political understanding.
  2. Egalitarian values commence in the Judaic model of the gentile at the End Times and run like a red thread through the Christian model of the soul seeking salvation, through liberalisms model of negative freedom, and to the radical equalities of our time. In everything there is a powerful destructive, indeed revolutionary charge. Still true to its most ancient root, it revolts against the norms of our peoplehood.
Last edited 1 year ago by G Worker
G Worker
G Worker
1 year ago
Reply to  G Worker

You asked why journalists are so left-wing and I have twice explained where equalitarianism originates (in the amorphous, undifferentiated post-racial model of the gentile to which Judaism cleaves) and how it inhabits the Western canon and transmits itself to the educated class but not to the rest of us. I fail to see why that is not enough for you, or why you want to portray it as superficial. You seem altogether too defensive. What’s going on?

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
1 year ago

It’s interesting that Ed West had to go to America to find journalism that had a left-wing bias. I’m not sure that the terms left and right wing actually mean a lot in America, which is a very different society from ours. Even their own much-used distinction between conservative and liberal doesn’t really fit their own politics, split as it is between north and south, inland and coast, religious and nonreligious, urban and rural, et cetera.
Closer to home, surely his thesis falls down? Let’s see, we have the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Telegraph (whose nickname the “Torygraph” speaks for itself), and The Times. None of these is known as a hotbed of left-wing ideas. We also have the left-leaning Guardian, Observer, and Daily Mirror, only one of which is a mass-market daily. The Financial Times is reputedly politically centrist. As for the weeklies, The New Statesman is no longer the left-wing periodical it once was, and The Spectator is decidedly right wing.
No doubt other periodicals could be added in, but you have to go a long way to find a large circulation left of centre newspaper in this country, other than the Daily Mirror.
As for the broadcast media, the BBC attracts criticism from both right and left wing commentators for allegedly being biased towards the other side. Hardly a clear bias, then. Other broadcast organisations are run by big businesses, firmly committed to a capitalist system, and unlikely to foster revolutionary socialism.
Furthermore, what people “identify as” in surveys doesn’t necessarily translate directly into what they write in their news stories. Simply splitting people into right-wing and left-wing overlooks a whole range of nuances: collectivist, individualist, green, pro-European, anti-European. Modern politics is not so simply reduced to the two-category system some people seem to need.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

As for the broadcast media, the BBC attracts criticism from both right and left wing commentators for allegedly being biased towards the other side.
Even BBC employees acknowledge that it is hopelessly from the left. It critics on the left are simply unhappy that it is not left win enough.

Gary Greenbaum
Gary Greenbaum
1 year ago

And this comes as news?

Tom Webster
Tom Webster
1 year ago

This is really interesting, I wonder if anything like this has been undertaken for British journalism?

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
1 year ago

I found the words “ruthless competition to acquire the most edgy, high-status opinion, all in an industry with declining wages and high-cost urban living” enlightening. It does explain a lot.
On that basis Kimi Badenoch has done Nadine White’s career a massive favour and makes her pathetic journalism seem understandable if not reasonable.

Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
1 year ago

Because journalists spend all their time thinking about things and putting them into words, and left-wing politics are the result of thinking about things and putting them them into words and then acting on what the words say?
That doesn’t make it always right, heaven knows. Sometimes logic leads you wrong when gut instinct would have led you right. But it’s hardly a mystery that people who just want to pump out as many babies that look like them as possible while getting rid of all the people who don’t look like them don’t go in for careers where you have to reason and be articulate. I mean, once you decide that following your animal instincts is the way to go, what more is there to say?

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
1 year ago

“left-wing politics are the result of thinking about things?”
It has been my experience that left-wing politics are the result of thinking about things whilst being either ignorant of, or in denial about, ‘human nature’ (its good and not so good aspects).

Those who (exclusively) ‘think about things’, rather than being ‘doers’ in the outside world can remain surprisingly clueless about reality (is my opinion).

The reason small business owners, the self-employed and private sector workers are not left wing is because they learn, from experience, that people are not natural communists but will benefit themselves before others. They will also take without reciprocating, if the system allows. Working class families (who work) are not impressed by those who take but do not contribute.

If you are an Oxford don, or someone who has never existed outside an ‘educational’ setting, or even a child of public sector workers, you may never have faced the harsh commercial realities that teach you an awful lot about human nature very quickly.

So that is my (not very highbrow) take on why journalists, teachers/self-identified intellectuals, even public sector workers, can maintain the illusion of being morally superior left-wing idealists.

It is also why they often appear to have less common sense than the man in the street.