New York Magazine’s Chait insists it ‘can’t be measured’ that media is more biased against GOP than Dems

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In a piece for New York Magazine’s Intelligencer website, writer Jonathan Chait claimed it’s not possible to measure if the media is harder on Republicans or Democrats, and claimed that the GOP’s efforts to slam the biased media are an attempt to “escape any accountability whatsoever.” 

Chait began his Wednesday report depicting how Governor Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., recently insisted that “mainstream media was not permitted to cover” the state GOP’s annual Sunshine Summit. Reportedly, DeSantis claimed, “We in the state of Florida are not going to allow legacy media outlets to be involved in our primaries. I’m not going to have a bunch of left-wing media people asking our candidates gotcha questions.”

The writer also brought up the example of the conservative Claremont Institute’s president Ryan Williams saying he is “not interested in participating in the fiction that the Washington Post is a legitimate media outlet.” 

Chait likened this sentiment to that of the Nixon administration or Joe McCarthy, when they tried to “discredit reporting that challenged their lies.” The author claimed it has progressed further than that. Citing journalist David Freedlander, Chait wrote, “the right’s war on independent media is reaching a new stage of blanket refusal to acknowledge its legitimacy.”

NY Mag's Jonathan Chait argued that it's too hard to tell whether the mainstream media is harder on the GOP or the Democratic Party.

NY Mag’s Jonathan Chait argued that it’s too hard to tell whether the mainstream media is harder on the GOP or the Democratic Party. ((AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite))

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Exploring why conservatives might not want to acknowledge the media’s legitimacy, Chait pondered whether the media favor the left. He found that “mainstream media does have an overall liberal lean, and that it has grown over time,” but only in the realm “of culture and lifestyle, while political news has mostly retained its traditional character.”

But when it came to answering whether the media cover the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party, he completely shelved the topic, calling it a “question that can’t be measured, and which most people settle by resorting to anecdotes.”

However, Fox News Digital reported last year that Trump and the mainstream media had “the most mutually antagonistic relationship between the White House and the media since the Nixon era.”

Still, Chait insisted, “For the purposes of my argument here, I’d like to bracket it.” 

Chait then claimed, “The only point I need to make is that the mainstream media does routinely report critically on the Democratic Party,” referencing the displeasure with President Joe Biden. “If you are watching CNN or reading the New York Times, you have encountered a steady stream of articles questioning whether Joe Biden is too old for the job, noting high inflation, pummeling the Afghanistan withdrawal, and so on.”

Though as Fox reported, Biden has “also enjoyed cover and defense of his actions from left-leaning media allies.”

Chait also argued that GOP leaders, like Governor Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., deride the media in order to gain political power.

Chait also argued that GOP leaders, like Governor Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., deride the media in order to gain political power. ( Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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His overall point was that mainstream media “is less biased than conservative media, which only serves the right.” Chait continued, “The communications apparatus of the conservative movement was established with the goal of advancing the right’s political interests.” He also tarred the industry, saying, “Their approach to malfeasance by their side is to ignore, distort, or change the subject to some agreed-upon sin by the enemy (a practice called ‘whataboutism’).”

Chait continued with the Governor DeSantis example, detailing how the governor’s political agenda benefits off a “gusher of coverage in the conservative media that is indistinguishable in tone and content from the messages produced by his own staff.” He remarked how the governor has found in negative press an “an incentive” to “burnish his credentials as an enemy of the enemy of the people” – the media.

He then declared that the party going forward will benefit from this and use it to establish a “one-party state. “The incentive structure that is now in place allows Republican politicians to escape any accountability whatsoever. The only ‘journalists’ they deem legitimate are ones who are functionally working for them.”

“The GOP will function in power like the ruling party in a one-party state,” Chait concluded. 

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Chait warned that if GOP leaders continue to ignore the mainstream media, they could achieve "one-party" rule in states across the country.

Chait warned that if GOP leaders continue to ignore the mainstream media, they could achieve "one-party" rule in states across the country.