As an old fart, I remember well the 1960s. It was a time of upheaval, and the so called "New Left" was on the march. The struggle over the meaning of the First Amendment was at least as intense as the struggle over the Second. A commonly heard argument from Leftists was that "I support your right to say things I do not support." And conservatives agreed, thinking that the Left was arguing in good faith. Silly conservatives! All that changed as "New Leftists" began to take positions of authority and power in the various institutions of the culture. This was the great "March Through The Institutions" of which you have no doubt heard. Because so much news came to be biased in favor of the Left, Fox News Channel has had a good run with its marketing tag line of "fair and balanced."
Conservatives, of course, still believe in free speech. We believe that if the facts are revealed, and both we and the Left are equally allowed to give our own interpretation of those facts, our side will prevail. The Left evidently believes so too, for they routinely do not allow our side to even present the actual facts, let alone interpret them. For instance, at yesterday's VCDL Lobby Day event in Richmond, Virginia, and NBC reported falsely claimed that the rally was really about white supremecy. In fact it was about the 2nd Amendment and there were exactly zero arrests for violence. Sorry, media, but gun rights supporters are not itching for a fight.
David Weinberger has a think piece out today at The Federalist entitled Why the News Media Cannot and Should Not Be Unbiased. He argues that even deciding which facts to report and which to keep silent about involves bias. Interpreting those facts that are reported involves yet more bias. He is right, of course.
However, when conservatives rail against a biased press, they are not talking so much about the kind of bias that Weinberger mentions here, but about systemically preventing any conservative to speak at all. Conservative and religious ideas are barred from the public square not just be the traditional media, but by social media such as twitter and facebook. Of what are they afraid? When, for instance, Ann Coulter goes to a campus to speak, she must have security there to protect her, and she is often shouted down. If the Left believes their cause is correct, of what are the so afraid? Whatever happened to the idea of colleges being places of free thought and debate?
In fact, rather than having a headline that grabs attention by blaring that "news media can not be unbiased," what it should say is that the news media should provide a more balanced diversity of ideas. For that is the main point of the article.
Now, some will say that certain ideas are beyond the pale, and should be suppressed. Examples include the skinheads and Neo-Nazi movements. But I say the more speech the better. Let them talk and be heard. Any reasonable person will quickly see that the ideas espoused are ridiculous.
The Founding Fathers ultimately entrusted the nation to We The People. I am sure it was not without some trepidation. But the newspapers of the day were as biased as anything we see today on all sides of every issue. Wise people read and discussed all sides of every issue. The Left should allow us the same privilege today.