July 1997 – Media bias? Ask a conservative and he’ll tell you the media is biased against his point of view. Ask a liberal and he’ll tell you the same. So who’s right?
Don Wildmon, my dad and president of American Family Association, had experienced what he perceived as a bias against “the traditional Christian view” years before there was documented proof that the national secular media was indeed prejudiced against the principles and values promoted by organizations like AFA.
The August, 1986 edition of NFD Journal (now AFA Journal) revealed an enlightening study. It was a study and survey of America’s media elite, both entertainment and news. The study was conducted by Linda S. Lichter and S. Robert Lichter of George Washington University, and Stanley Rothman of Smith College. The study clearly showed that on social issues and political issues the media elite are decisively more liberal than is the general American public.
For instance, of the 104 most influential writers, directors, and executives interviewed, 69% “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that the government should redistribute income in America. In the 1972 presidential election, when 62% of the public voted for Richard Nixon, a conservative, only 15% of the Hollywood elite voted for Nixon. In fact, George McGovern, a liberal Democrat, received a whooping 82% of their vote.
On social issues, 91% of the media elite strongly believe a woman should have the right to an abortion and only 20% agreed or strongly agreed that homosexuality is morally wrong. Also, the study revealed that only 16% of these media elite strongly agreed that adultery is wrong.
Can there be any doubt why so many news and entertainment programs reflect a morality that is the opposite of the Christian worldview?
The survey confirmed what we had already figured out at AFA. As a result we made some changes in our attitudes and polices concerning the media.
First, we became very selective about granting interviews. We found that most of the secular media often disagree strongly with the traditional values that pro-family advocates hold. We began to grant interviews and issue press releases only when it will help our cause.
For example, in 1987 Time magazine wanted to do an interview with Don Wildmon. He agreed only if the article would be in a question and answer format. Time agreed and the interview served a good purpose for AFA.
We also began to regularly report about media bias. In the AFA Journal we wanted to alert our readers that the news was often sifted, screened and twisted by liberal writers and reporters.
Later, we began our own news agency, American Family Radio news. Our radio newscasts now reach thousands of people with the truth about issues that are regularly distorted by the secular press or go unreported altogether.
Perhaps no more blatant example exists of the mainline media’s ignoring an important story (because it runs counter to their prejudices) than when the AFA Law Center successfully defended two pro-life activists in Bridgeport, Connecticut, recently.
In the “landmark case” – words used by the government attorneys – Carmen Vazquez and Bobby Riley were charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). The case was highly significant for pro-lifers for two reasons. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Connecticut Attorney General wanted first to punish Bobby and Carmen for their success in saving the lives of unborn children, and second to intimidate other pro-lifers around the country. Government attorneys chose Connecticut because of the state’s radical pro-abortion government officials. The full resources of the state and federal governments and the Department of Justice were used against the pair. The prosecution’s case took over two years and hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to prepare. It involved eight government attorneys, undercover agents and even FBI resources.
However, when the two-week trial ended with the judge ruling that Bobby and Carmen were simply exercising their First Amendment rights, no mainline news outlet reported the victory. One account appeared as a two-sentence story in USA Today. The newspaper reported that Stanley Scott, another defendant not represented by AFA Law Center, was ordered to stop harassing clients at the Bridgeport abortion clinic. There was no mention of Carmen or Bobby, AFA Law Center, or the incredible drama of the pro-life victory.
Yes, the media is very much biased against those of us who stand for traditional values. However, alternative media have sprung up everywhere now to counter the major television networks and news agencies and give balance to news coverage. This is a good and healthy sign for our country.
However, as far as the entertainment side of the media is concerned, there are still only a handful of Christians and/or people of traditional values in Hollywood. And as evidenced by the recent Disney/ABC celebration and promotion of lesbianism through the Ellen television show, the liberal view on social issues still clearly reigns supreme.