For my money, Dana Milbank is the most biased, least trustworthy political writer on the Washington Post’s staff (for evidence, type his name into our search engine and click on the results). Thus, one must suspect the presence of parody when Milbank, in the name of honest MSM journalists, decries the efforts of bloggers to “do away with [the MSM’s} truth-telling role.” Milbank makes essentially three points: (1) an independent, truth-seeking press is valuable, (2) the MSM constitutes such a press, and (3) bloggers, primarily conservative ones, are trying to destroy that press. Let’s examine these points in turn.
1. I agree that an unbiased, truth-seeking MSM would be very nice to have.
2. Whether we have such a press is, of course, the key point in controversy these days. Unfortunately, Milbank assumes, rather than proves his contention that the MSM operates honestly and in good faith. His only evidence of his own lack of bias is that both the left and the right have accused him of bias. This is a familiar and disingenuous dodge. I could use it to prove that my writing is non-partisan, since I’ve received bitter complaints from conservative readers. Readers interested in Milbank’s record, as opposed to the identity of his critics, are again invited to search our site. Or they can proceed directly here, here, or here, for starters.
To show that the MSM in general lacks bias, Milbank relies on a statement by former Bush administration press secretary Ari Fleischer, who says that the media is biased but that this bias is “complicated, secondary [to its lust for conflict] and often nuanced.” For purposes of discussion, let’s stipulate that this statement is true in many cases (but not Milbank’s). It hardly supports Milbank’s position. “Nuanced bias” is still bias.
3. When it comes to Milbank’s claim that bloggers are trying to destroy the press so it can’t tell the truth, Milbank offers no evidence at all. We know that bloggers are constantly challenging the accuracy and fairness of the MSM’s work. But this tells us little, if anything, about their motivation. Are they doing this because they want the MSM to be more factually accurate (that would be the most natural conclusion), or because they want the MSM to be less accurate and, indeed, unfree? A trustworthy commentator wouldn’t assert that the motive is the latter, nefarious one without providing evidence. But Milbank has demonstrated time after time that he is not such a commentator.
UPDATE: Charles Johnson notes the irony in Milbank’s complaint here.
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