The media delight in being portrayed as “adversarial,” sometimes even going overboard in their efforts to subvert power. There are some remarkable examples, e.g., the Freedom House study of how the liberal crusading press lost the Vietnam war by lying about the Tet offensive in its adversarial enthusiasm. It was a collection of the most extraordinary lies, quickly exposed by investigation even
of their own documents. The press was furious about being exposed as telling the truth — that is, being professionally competent but keeping within the confines of the doctrinal system — and loved being condemned as liars and traitors. It’s obvious why. Gives great material for commencement addresses by media leaders on how, yes, we do sometimes go too far in our crusading zeal, but that is the price the country has to pay for freedom, etc., etc. I’ve suffered through them now and then. The truth is far more unpleasant to face. All quite well documented.
And by conventional standards the national press IS liberal. The attitudes of journalists and editors are probably not very different from CEOs on “social issues.” Or, for that matter, on business-related matters or support for state power. But only “social issues” are used in measuring whether the press is “liberal.”