Tag archives: Media Bias

Conservatism’s Good - and Under-reported Ideas

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 24, 2014

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) today unveiled a plan designed to “expand (economic) opportunity in America—to deliver real change, real solutions, and real results” (http://paulryan.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=389081#.U9FlzkCuo7k).

It is likely there are proposals and assumptions in Ryan’s plan with which I agree, and others with which I do not. What has caught my attention is the way some of the media are covering his remarks. Here are some examples:

Ryan’s plan is substantive, far-reaching, and clear. It has much to commend it. Let’s also grant for the sake of argument that in addition to wanting to offer proposals that offer real hope, Ryan wants to dispel some of the stereotypes about Republicans not caring for the poor. That’s perfectly understandable and politically valid.

Yet with that said, why should he or anyone have to dispel a notion that is, itself, patently false?

Conservatives have long offered myriad proposals to help address issues of economic opportunity, educational failure, family collapse, and the struggles of millions of Americans wrestling with at-best modest incomes and dwindling hopes.

Yet the standard media narrative – heartless conservatives who pine for “orgiastic tax-cutting, the slashing of government programs, the championing of Wall Street” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/magazine/can-the-gop-be-a-party-of-ideas.html) – clings to the conservative movement like plastic wrap.

Why? Simply because so many in the “mainstream” media repeat it so often and, concurrently, so seldom report on the many ideas conservatives have generated that are designed to address intransigent social and economic problems. This is maddening, even if predictable, and also one of the principal reasons conservatives now operate their own print and electronic media outlets and networks.

Of course, sometimes a conservative spokesman will say something untoward or excessive. Pick a politician, Left or Right, who sometimes says things not almost immediately regretted. Do such offensive but incidental comments characterize entire movements, whole patterns of philosophy and ideas? No. Yet much too often, conservatives are portrayed as the purveyors of greed and callousness because of the few stupid statements of a few people.

Economic indicators cannot measure the values held by our children, or the suffering felt by broken families,” according to my old boss, U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-IN). “We have discovered that our growing GNP also includes massive prison construction to house a lost generation, drug counseling in elementary schools, suicide hotlines, teen pregnancy centers, and clinics for battered children” (https://wikis.engrade.com/morality1/morality4).

The Senator said this in a speech in 1991. Since then, at least two things haven’t changed: The media’s general stereotyping of conservatives as heartless materialists, and their failure to report conservative ideas about how best to help our fellow citizens in need.

To death and taxes, perhaps media disinterest in conservative proposals should be added as an inevitability. This is not excuse for conservatives not to “stay in there pitching,” but a reminder that the next time you’re tempted to ask, “Why don’t conservatives say something about (pick your issue)?,” in all likelihood they already have.

Dubious Reporting About International Adoptions

by Rob Schwarzwalder

September 24, 2013

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a piece by a writer named Kathryn Joyce on the supposed exploitation of orphans in the developing world by Christian ministries. The piece is based on her book, The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption.

The Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) has written a gracious but powerful response to Joyce’s claims; it should be read by anyone concerned about the international adoption movement. My friend Jedd Medefind, who leads the CAFO and drafted the response, concludes:

It’s been said that democracy is the worst form of government…except for all the others. The same could be expressed of many other good things, including aspects of the Christian orphan movement. None of its expressions are perfect — whether adoption, foster care, mentoring, family preservation or global orphan care initiatives. And yet, despite many shortcomings of this work, tremendous good is brought daily to millions of children around the globe. Yes, errors and pitfalls will always come with any effort to address deep human need. So we must labor continually to minimize risks and avoid unintended consequences. Yet this realism need not lead to the cynicism that defines The Child Catchers. Nor to the hopelessness or temptation to withdraw from engagement the one might feel after reading it.

This is wonderfully said, and makes the point that whatever errors have been made as Americans, including American Christians, have engaged in international adoption, the overwhelming good being done for little ones without parents (and currently, there are more than 140 million of them) through adoption far outweighs the missteps.

Additionally, it is noteworthy that Kathryn Joyce is closely identified with the pro-abortion movement. She writes for such Left-liberal publications as Mother Jones, The Nation, and “RH Reality Check: Reproductive and Sexual Health and Justice News and Commentary,” one of whose stated goals is “to restore and sustain abortion coverage for low-income women.” “RH Reality Check” exists to advance abortion as a fully justified means of women’s health care and debunk pro-life arguments and initiatives.

Ms. Joyce writes frequently about what she regards as the dangers of Evangelical Protestantism; that’s her right, but let’s be clear about where her biases lay.

Ms. Joyce is not a dispassionate journalist but an advocate for a point of view. Again, advocacy for one’s convictions is perfectly legitimate. What isn’t appropriate is for her and her champions (e.g., the editorial page of The New York Times) not to disclose her allegiance to a movement and point of view inimical to those about whom she is writing.

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