by Ed West
Friday, 19
March 2021

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

  • “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.

  • 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.

  • police and military are increasingly left wing.
    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.

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