Beltway Confidential

In other news, journalists agree: The media are out of touch with most Americans

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Media

A group of top journalists in Washington agreed today that the media on the whole "has a left-wing bias" and, indeed, are populated with people who have no idea how most Americans live and think.

CNN's Jake Tapper described the cultural isolation that hampers many journalists. "A certain type of person becomes a reporter, and generally speaking -- ... I'm not saying every reporter in the world -- the kind of person who is a reporter in Washington, D.C., or New York City has never worked a minimum-wage job outside of high school, has never experienced poverty, is not an evangelical Christian, like much of the country is," Tapper said at a breakfast sponsored by Politico. "There are a lot of experiences that the kinds of people who are reporters, editors, producers in Washington and New York City have not had."

"But you don't see a lot of coverage of poverty, you don't see a lot of coverage of troops, you don't see a lot of coverage of faith. It's simplistic to say it's liberal or conservative; it's about experiences and lifestyle," he also said.

Or, as Mark Leibovich put it: "I live in northwest Washington, none of my neighbors are evangelical Christians, I don't know a lot of people in my kid's preschool who are pro-life."

Tapper and Leibovich are excellent reporters, but consider the implications of the media industry they describe: Is it possible that not knowing any pro-life people, not knowing any evangelicals, not knowing military service members, might affect coverage of those issues — might make it more difficult for a journalist to help readers understand pro-life evangelicals the way they understand themselves? Most Americans outside the D.C.-N.Y.C. bubble would say, "Of course!"

It brings to mind the line attributed (not quite accurately) to New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael. “I can't believe Nixon won," Kael is reputed to have said. "I don't know anyone who voted for him.”

Don't expect Tapper and Leibovitch's comments to spark a great awakening in the media. "[J]ournalists have been noting their socio-economic isolation for years without positive change in news coverage," The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway writes today. "If anything, some news coverage is getting worse. After the Washington Post had to be shamed into covering the trial of serial murderer and abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, top editor Martin Baron casually noted that there was a very simple explanation for why his paper had failed to cover the major abortion trial of the past few years: He was unaware of it."

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