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September 12, 2007

Not All Columns Are Equal

James Joyner worries that the stats showing an overepresentation of conservative columnists are poorly coded. "Personally," he writes, "I would score Broder and the Roberts family as progressive; still, while they’re clearly left-of-center, they’re hardly fire breathing liberal activists." But this gets to one of the problems. While I wouldn't call any of them liberals, even if they were liberals, they're not writing liberal columns.

Broder, Cokie Roberts, Ron Brownstein (a genuine liberal), and others of that sort pen reported, informational columns about American politics. They are not engaged in the work of George Will or EJ Dionne, who write argumentative columns advancing a particular ideology. So whether they support gay marriage is a bit beside the point: When The LA Times replaced Jon Chait with Ron Brownstein, they lost their liberal counterweight. Before, Jonah Goldberg's ceaseless advocacy for conservatism was balanced by Chait's liberalism. Now, it's balanced by very smart reported columns about this moment in American politics. And that's not balance at all.

September 12, 2007 | Permalink


Exactly. It's not just advocating for conservative or liberal policies either, but advancing the interests of a party. When was the last truly pro-Democratic party column written by Broder or Cokie Roberts using progressive framing of the issues?

Posted by: Th | Sep 12, 2007 9:48:45 AM


This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience | Sep 12, 2007 10:34:31 AM

You are forgetting that "reality has a liberal bias". So just by writing "informational columns about American politics", they make the editorial page more "liberal" and need to be balanced by conservative columnists who make up their own reality that doesn't have such a liberal slant. That's called "balance".

Posted by: NonyNony | Sep 12, 2007 10:56:29 AM

Broder is "left of center"? What center might that be?

Posted by: Bloix | Sep 12, 2007 11:01:26 AM

No monarchy without a court, no court without courtiers, no courtiers without a Court Circular for the courtiers to read about themselves in.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina | Sep 12, 2007 11:06:23 AM

Broder? Left? Of what? Cokie Roberts reports objectively?

I mean, your point that "centered" objectivity doesn't balance wingnut advocacy is well taken. But that's hardly an accurate image, at least in my opinion. Listen to, for instance, NPR. Once the bastion of decent, informational reporting with a decided progressive streak (not in advocacy sense but in the choosing what they would broadcast sense). These days NPR truly is just Nice Polite Republicans. NPR constantly only goes to right for interviews or source material. They regularly steno whatever the government has regurgitated for the day. Come on, if NPR is playing the right wing game, that must mean something. I think you grossly understate the media's swing to the right.

Posted by: ice weasel | Sep 12, 2007 11:11:13 AM

To what (minuscule) degree Broder is left of center is less of a problem than that what he writes isn't "very smart reported columns about this moment in American politics." In fact they're often very dumb columns, because he's asking for all the subjects of his vague notions to act in ways they've never shown any inclination to act, in pursuit of chimerical goals. He never seems to understand what motivates either elected officials or the people that vote for them.

Posted by: Michael Bloom | Sep 12, 2007 1:27:51 PM

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