Friday, August 8, 2008

Media Bias

Recall a couple of weeks ago a lunatic walked into a Unitarian church and started shooting people. The media made sure we all understood that the man hated liberals and, we were to conclude, was a right-wing nut case. No story on the tragic affair left unimplied that the man was driven by dangerous antipathies fairly typical of the right.

Okay, but now it turns out that Bruce Ivins, the biochemist who sent the anthrax letters to a number of people in Washington, killing several, was a committed Democrat. Have you heard any mention of this from the MSM? I haven't.

Ace of Spades, who has a very thorough report on the entire case, writes about this development:

So if you're wondering why Ivins' political affiliation has not been reported -- as many of you were certain would be the main storyline here, assuming he had turned out to be Republican -- there's your answer. Surely the MSM would be calling him a Republican in every report, but, alas, it turns out he's a Democrat, and hence no reportage on this aspect of his political beliefs whatsoever.

I wouldn't read too much into his political affiliation; his main party was of course "Crazy."

But yeah, I do know that if he had been a Republican, the MSM and the left would be going beserkers and blaming this all on us.

And I find it a bit unsettling that members of the "Reality Based Community" immediately begin offering conspiracy theories based on little more than the fact that Ivins was a Democrat, so of course he can't be guilty.

Brad Blog's argument is slightly more nuanced than that -- he asks why a liberal (presumably, based on his letters to the editor) Democrat would send anthrax to liberals Daschle, Leahy, and Tom Brokaw ( a curious sudden admission from the left that a big MSM figure is in fact "liberal").

But the writer seems trapped in the thinking that political orientation determines bad behavior (of course Ivins must have been a Republican; only mean Republicans do stuff like this!), rather than accepting that insanity and not political belief is the main motivating impulse in this sort of crime.

So why did Ivins send the letters to liberals, mostly? Why not? For one thing, he was bonkers. For another thing, he wanted a lot of publicity, and, at the time, Daschle and Leahy were in the Senatorial majority. Republicans, at that time, were in the minority....

And what conservative media figures were prominent enough to warrant an anthrax letter? George Will? Jonah Goldberg? Pshah. If you want to make a splash, you send letters to TV news anchors, and all of them, of course, were/are liberals.

For another thing, as the netroots proves day-in, day-out, the netroots hate what it considers heretics and apostates in the Church of Liberalism nearly as passionately (sometimes moreso) than actual Evil Republican Malefactors.

The left's determination to find a Republican villain behind every single crime or misfortune that befalls the world is borderline insane -- nearly Bruce Ivins level paranoid, actually.

Ace is right. The church shooter was nuts and so was Ivins, but it is annoying that the media thinks that one nut's ideology is relevant and the other's isn't.

It's sort of like the elite media's refusal to say anything about John Edwards' "love" affair until he admitted it, and his apparent illegitimate child. Does anyone really think that if a Republican of Edwards' prominence had engaged in such sordid behavior while his wife suffered from incurable cancer that the media would have sat on the story?


The Fruit of Bigotry

In the course of commenting on an article by Peter Wood on the obstacles confronting those who would like to see an increase in the number of American born and educated scientists, Bruce Chapman mentions an obstacle that Wood omits. Chapman thinks that the current hostility to religion among many educators, especially scientists, acts as a deterrent to many Christian young people who would otherwise be inclined to go into a scientific field. In other words, the climate is such that Christian students don't feel comfortable in the presence of so many militant materialist professors and fellow students.

Chapman admits he has nothing but anecdotal data to support his theory, but there's nothing implausible about it. Students who peruse the internet and view the rantings of people like Richard Dawkins, P.Z. Myers and their epigones are certainly not going to be eager to study science in college if they think they might be singled out and humiliated by such people. Nor would they be inclined to make science a profession if they thought that they would have to spend much of their career concealing their ideas from their colleagues and facing tenure denial if they speak out. It surely must seem much easier to a sizeable minority of bright Christian young people to choose some other line of work.

If Chapman is right then the Torquemadas among today's university professoriat are doing the nation a profound disservice in more ways than just their stifling of ideas.


For Book Lovers

My friend Byron passes along a list compiled by Neil Bowers of the 100 best novels ever written. This list is different from others in that it combines a number of other such rankings and orders the books by how many other lists they appear on and how high they're rated. Bowers' list can be found here, and his rationale and methodology are explained here.

Surprisingly, only one book was found on every list so Bowers has it ranked number one. How many of the 100 have you read?

Bethanne Patrick at Publisher's Weekly says she's read all but one of the titles on Bowers' list. That's quite an achievement, but I have to say that I was surprised at the title she hadn't yet read. I think you'll be, too.