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Read My Lips: Hire Some Conservatives

May 15, 2005|Andrew Klavan | Andrew Klavan's latest novel, "Shotgun Alley," comes out in paperback from Forge in October. He can be reached at

Look, I'm really busy right now but, all right, I'll take five minutes to solve the problems of the mainstream media. I mean, ratings for network news are at an all-time low, newspaper readership is falling off the chart, the public's trust in journalists is steadily eroding -- the least I can do is sacrifice one coffee break in order to sort things out. It doesn't require internal studies or revamped formats. Just three little words of advice will fix every one of their troubles: Hire some conservatives.

I don't mean hire a conservative. I don't mean cover conservatives. I don't mean allow conservatives to express a minority opinion on your Op-Ed page or argue at the top of their lungs on some yes/no, black/white, point/counterpoint debate program. I mean that at ABC, CBS, NBC, the Los Angeles Times et al, a substantial proportion of the reporters who cover stories, and the editors who assign and shape those stories, should be people with conservative beliefs. The rest can continue to be what they are now: left-wingers who live under the delusion that they're moderates.

Why would this work? Because our opinions shape our perspectives, and studies repeatedly show that the opinions of a majority of mainstream journalists are the opinions of a minority of Americans.

Of course they're losing us.

For example, here are a few things that seem to me not only true but plain as day:

* After three and half years with terrorism largely thwarted on free soil, the formation of two nascent Middle Eastern democracies, the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and a revitalized peace process in Israel, the war on terrorism is thus far a remarkable success redounding credit and glory to its commander in chief.

* A court that discovers rights such as the right to an abortion or homosexual marriage in any constitution written before 2004 is arrogantly abusing judicial independence. It is not actually conferring rights; it is abrogating the one crucial right: that of the people to debate, vote and, through their representatives, legislate the sort of country they wish to live in.

* There is a God. He, not the government, endowed us with our rights. Therefore when we acknowledge him in the public square, we remind government of the rights it is bound to protect. Nothing in the Constitution prohibits this.

* The federal government is not meant to be a huge engine for doing good. It is meant to be a small engine for preserving the liberty of individuals and communities so that they can choose to do good. Without that choice, there's no virtue. Without virtue, only tyranny can keep the peace.

Now if these were just my opinions, it wouldn't matter. But I'd bet cold cash that well over half the country believes at least some of these propositions. If that's true, it's easy to see how a ceaseless barrage of stories over-emphasizing hardships in Iraq, fretting over abortion "rights," using the word "cuts" to describe slower government growth or showcasing hysterical attacks on religious legislators might make us turn the channel or cancel our subscriptions. By hiring some conservatives to balance such bias, news outlets may begin to restore the idea that they are, in fact, news outlets, instead of, say, elite would-be opinion-makers instructing us in right thinking by manipulating reportage and distorting facts.

This solution is so obvious it can only be denial that keeps mainstream-media chieftains from facing the truth. Here are just a few of the excuses I've heard journalists make for not doing the right thing.

* "Reporters can be liberal and still report objectively." This is only half true. Liberal reporters can report objectively if they are countered by conservative reporters and editors who challenge their assumptions. Surrounded by their own, they become convinced their perspectives are reality.

* "Reporters don't even know the political opinions of the journalists who work around them." This is not true at all. I've worked in newsrooms. You know.

* Conservatives don't go into journalism because there's no money in it and they're small-minded authoritarians, whereas liberals have the sort of commitment to civic good and incisive, free-wheeling intelligence that suits them to the journalist's trade. This is just shameful, self-delusive nonsense.

* "There is no liberal media bias." Well, look, I can't help you unless you admit you have a problem.

So that's it. The mainstream media can hire some conservatives and their ratings will go up and readership will return. Or not, and they can continue to decline into well-deserved irrelevance. In either case, I have to get back to work. But if I find a minute, I'll come back and solve the problems of our colleges and universities.

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