Why Most Members Of The Media Are Leftists — Guest Post by Kevin Groenhagen

Why Most Members Of The Media Are Leftists — Guest Post by Kevin Groenhagen

Both Barack and Michelle Obama made speeches in which they compared the positive “what is” with the normative “what should be.” “There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity,” Barack Obama said in a May 2011 speech. “Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.”

In an April 2009 speech at a London girl’s school, Michelle Obama noted that, before they were married, Barack Obama took her on a date to a “community meeting.” “As he talked to the residents in that community center, he talked about two concepts,” she stated. “He talked about ‘the world as it is’ and ‘the world as it should be.’ And I talked about this throughout the entire campaign.” She related the same story a few months earlier at the Democratic National Convention: “Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about ‘The world as it is’ and ‘The world as it should be.'” She concluded her speech at the convention by declaring that she and her husband had committed themselves “to building the world as it should be.”

The Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger noted in 2012 that Michelle Obama, in her remarks at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, referred to Saul Alinsky, the founder of modern community organizing, when she said her husband had won her heart by speaking of turning the world as it is into the world as it should be.

It is true that Alinsky used almost identical words in Rules for Radicals. For example, in the prologue he wrote, “As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be.” However, that concept did not originate with Alinsky. After all, Milton Friedman, a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, discussed the concept a decade before the publication of Rules for Radicals:

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, intellectuals in the United States were overwhelmingly persuaded that capitalism was a defective system inhibiting economic well-being and thereby freedom, and that the hope for the future lay in a greater measure of deliberate control by political authorities over economic affairs. The conversion of the intellectuals was not achieved by the example of any actual collectivist society, though it undoubtedly was much hastened by the establishment of a communist society in Russia and the glowing hopes placed in it. The conversion of the intellectuals was achieved by a comparison between the existing state of affairs, with all its injustices and defects, and a hypothetical state of affairs as it might be. The actual was compared with the ideal.

Indeed, the concept of “what is and what should be” can be traced to Karl Marx. Michael Harrington, the chair of Democratic Socialists of America until his death in 1989, noted in Socialism, “There was, the nineteen-year-old Karl Marx wrote to his father, a basic contradiction in German philosophy between ‘what is and what should be.'” Harrington also noted that “… Marx claimed to have solved that contradiction between ‘what is and what should be’ which he first confronted as a young philosophy student…. The truth was not to be discovered in a Hegelian retrospect upon the past; it was to be created by means of a social revolution which would make the future.”

It appears this Marxist concept of “what is and what should be” is now promoted by many on the left, including those in the media.

In 1962, the year I was born, Walter Cronkite began serving as the anchor for the CBS Evening News. He continued in that position until 1981, the year that I graduated from high school. I literally grew up hearing Cronkite’s newscasts and, like most of those in my generation, remember that he closed each newscast with catchphrase “And that’s the way it is.”

As a journalist, Cronkite tended to focus on “what is,” and, as a result, became one of the most trusted men in the country. After leaving journalism, he was much more open about his liberalism and started talking more about “what should be.”

Today, it is obvious that many journalists would rather focus on “what should be” instead of “what is.” “And I believe that good journalism, good television, can make our world a better place,” CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour said in 2000. Of course, it’s not the job of a journalist to make the world a better place, i.e., changing the world from what it is to what it should be. Nevertheless, many journalism schools and media outlets echo Amanpour’s sentiment. Here are just a few examples:

  • “As a [Journalism & Mass Communication] major, you will be able to acquire an education that will make two critical differences in your life. First, it will prepare you to satisfy your interests, advance your causes, and express your passions. In this way, it will help you make good progress toward realizing yourself. Second, it will prepare you to serve your organizations, communities, nation, and world. In this way, it will help you make the kind of difference that moves humanity forward…. You will be ready to make the world a better place for yourself and others.” (North Carolina A&T State University)
  • “It doesn’t matter the medium—we teach you how to gather information, analyze it, boil it down, and then communicate it effectively, accurately, quickly and ethically—all to make the world a better place. That is journalism.” (University of Arizona)
  • “Journalism should also shine a light on what is working, so people can act on their innate desire to help their neighbor and make their communities, and their world, a better place.” — Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post
  • “In memory of Stone and Holt Weeks, following their tragic deaths in 2009, NPR and the Washington Post have partnered to give a promising individual the opportunity to launch a career in journalism…. The Stone and Holt Weeks Fellow learns about the role of journalism in ‘making the world a better place.’ This Fellowship offers a broad exposure to the relationship between journalism and public education, citizenship, social change and democracy, and will learn that a major aim of journalism, as expressed a century ago by author Finley Peter Dunne, is ‘to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.'”

If a major goal of journalism is, as NPR and the Washington Post claim, “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” and if journalists are supposed to change the world to make it a better place, wouldn’t journalists who subscribe to these beliefs agree with this statement offered by radicals Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn in Race Course Against White Supremacy (2009): “If you want fundamental change, tie your fate to the most oppressed”? If that’s the case, I believe this helps explain why most journalists are biased in favor of the Democratic Party, which supposedly cares more about the oppressed.

Of course, we all believe things could be better than they currently are. However, in an attempt to make things better, those on the left tend to enact legislation that would only work in some unattainable utopia. As Paul A. Sexson and Stephen B. Miles, Jr., noted in The Challenge of Conservatism (1964), “[T]he liberal, as a liberal, thinks so much in terms of should that he simply fails to see the is. The liberal, as a liberal, is unable to handle realities.”

If socialists and their allies in the media merely influenced themselves in Washington, D.C., New York, and other liberal strongholds, constitutionalists would have little reason to be concerned. However, they do not stop there. “One of our key strategic goals is to surround swing voters and our opponents with an echo chamber reflecting our values and positions—to create a sense that our views represent the consensus of the mainstream,” Robert Creamer, the progressive community organizer and political consultant who was suspected of inciting violence at Trump campaign rallies in 2016, wrote in Listen to Your Mother: Stand Up Straight!: How Progressives Can Win (2007). Further, “Elite outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post are particularly important in creating a bandwagon effect of ‘conventional wisdom’ in the media.”

Unfortunately, the left-wing echo chamber has a serious effect on the voting habits of the so-called “low information voters.” As Tim Groseclose demonstrated in Left Turn, the liberal bias of members of the media causes our political views to make a left turn—that is, to become more liberal.

The mainstream media are not going to become reasonably “fair and balanced” any time in the near future. Several generations of journalists have been corrupted by the belief that their job is to “make the world a better place.” Complaining about that corruption is an exercise in futility. We constitutionalists need to realize that, accept it, and then work on finding ways to share our values and positions directly with the voters.

Kevin Groenhagen is the author of The Tea Party Challenge: Understanding the Threat Posed by the Socialist Coalition.


  1. Sheri

    The elite do not want the world “as it should be”, they want to rule over it and own the population . They phrased their ideas in terms that those with a god complex use. They want to own the population, make them slaves because that is how they view the world “as it should be”. They are Roman and Greek gods whose job is to make the “mere mortals” miserable all of their sad little mortal lives.

    The media is full of itself. David Muir “travels the world for me, to let me know what’s going on”. No, David Muir loves his face on TV and has an exceeding large ego. Again, these are the gods of media. The media is in general just brainwashing of the masses. Stupid wannabes cover local news, the truly talented get to be the national TV gods. It’s ego, ego, ego. They do NOT care about the world, only themselves. This is evident in disasters where they seek out sobbing people, then walk off and do not a thing to “make the world as it should be”. They are callous and uncaring unless on camera making points.

    All of this “world as it should be” is just communism for the ignorant and stupid. Only the top layer benefits—the rest of the population are deltas, the identical clones of the New World. (You see the perfection of this in North Korea where people have little idea that there is not anything better and believe their lives are the way it “should be”.)

  2. Ray

    Socialism appeals to the naïve because socialists claim to be able to create heaven on earth. No more war, poverty or injustice. Remember, the late great USSR was the socialist workers paradise. Just a few years ago the media were writing glowing stories about how Venezuela was a great socialist success story. Of course, that was before they ran out of other peoples money.

  3. Ye Olde Statistician

    The history of the twentieth century was primarily the history of what happens when we replace what works with what sounds good.

    Nor should we forget that the title of Rush Limbaugh’s first book was “The Way Things Ought to Be.” People are always dreaming of utopias. That’s why married people have affairs.

  4. Ken

    The title of the essay (“Why Most Members Of The Media Are Leftists”) is not even remotely explained in the subsequent essay, which just rambles about things liberals say & do, but does make a fair point that the news media has gone from reporting to being activist.

    A trend not confined to the liberal side of political viewpoints.

    “..this Marxist concept of “what is and what should be”” is a case in point of the same kind of shoddy analysis liberals, and other extremists, apply — overgeneralization/sweeping generalization fallacy. As YOS points out, Rush Limbaugh said much the same thing, as have others across the political spectrum — the rebuttal illustration proves this point.

    “What is and what should be” (or, “…never be” from the Led Zepplin song) is politically and value-neutral/value-agnostic. To assert it is a “Marxist concept” is to attribute a flimsy correlation-as-cause logical fallacy bolstered by ignoring ample facts & evidence showing the neutrality of the concept. Peculiar that [what should be obvious] logical fallacy would show up in this blog given the amount of correlation-is-not-causal tutoring having gone on.

    Completely missed is something that should be obvious: It is the underlying values an individual or a group hold that guides their outlook as to “what should be” — and one of the fundamental changes, underway, in U.S. & Western societies is a changing concept of what freedom and equality “should” entail.

    Used to be (as Alex de Tocqueville noted long ago) the U.S. citizenry held as a core value individual freedom and equality of opportunity, supported by very strong property rights.

    In the past few decades especially, but starting over the past century (Woodrow Wilson being a prime example, both before & after becoming President of the U.S., also President FDR, and the list goes on) individual values have been shifting to a very different concept of “equality” characterized by equality of results/outcomes, with those holding that set of values willing to give the government coercive control to force redistribution (a profound assault on basic property rights).

    As Milton Friedman noted:

    “It’s a funny thing, after the fall of communism everybody in the world agreed that socialism was a failure. Everybody in the world, more or less, agreed that capitalism was a success. And every capitalist country in the world apparently deduced from that that what the West needed was more socialism.” REF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKhfR8WC4Eo

    To even begin to address, much less explain, a core issue such as ‘why the media is liberal’ [however phrased] one must necessarily bore down and explain why society’s core values regarding freedom and equality are shifting toward the Left/socialism. That broad shift is the amalgamation of like-minded individuals.

    This is a very fundamental shift, not only unsupported by evidence but contradicted by ALL evidence on any and all broad social scales. This shift is, by any logical analysis, irrational.

    And therein lies a clue: Human beings are not rational creatures and any attempt to analyze them, or their broad behavior thru any lens of logic is itself irrational. And when humans act extremely irrationally, there’s a psychological factor.

    One of the reasons individuals on the Left are on the Left (with “individuals” counting as identifiable groups to include the Democrat Party) is because of a psychological defense mechanism of DENIAL, which is impervious to direct assault by logic. Dr Sanity has a very good explanation, accessible to the layperson, at her blog with Parts I, II and III (which address DENIAL as used in general and in the context of the Left/Democrat Party) — I encourage everyone to read the three-part explanation in its entirety: http://drsanity.blogspot.com/2006/04/strategies-for-dealing-with-denial_17.html

  5. c matt

    Seems to me the problem isn’t so much “is v. should be”, as agreeing on what concrete things “should be.” As pointed out above, “is v. ought” is value neutral, until the “ought” is actually defined. And it is in the different determinations of “what ought to be” that conflict arises.

  6. Kalif

    “Of course, that was before they ran out of other peoples money”

    The irony is that the quote is by a lady who led one of the most powerful empires that enslaved half a planet, robbed them of their resources over the course of centuries, but now demands a ‘fair game’ as if we all were all equals to begin with.
    I’m sure you know that all ‘successful democracies’ of today are former colonizers that had centuries of a head-start to amass vast quantities of just about everything from the rest of the world. If anybody, they are living off of other peoples’ money. Can’t blame them, because it is the only way capitalism works.
    Contrary to the popular belief, it does not tolerate competition, prefers to be the only guy in town, is not self-sustaining and needs enormous injections of energy/money/resources from ‘elsewhere’ to work well. The problem is, there’s no ‘elsewhere’. Colonialism paved way to neocolonialism and that’s where we are living now.
    Your are right, though. It truly takes centuries to spend other people’s money 😉

  7. Sylvain Allard

    Easy answer because for the extreme right or alt-right anyone who do not share your point of view is catalogued a leftist.

    No mather how conservatives someone is they are still called leftist people like Joe Scarborough, George Will, Bill Krystal, Jeff Flakes, etc.

  8. Definitions.

    What is the “Left?” Try to define it.

    What is the “Right?” Try to define it.

    Is that just in the USA? Or is there a global Left and a global Right?

    The Left vs. Right paradigm is a useful tar-baby to lure in and trap well-meaning political commentary and activists.

    In the US the political division is Normal-Americans against the forces bent on the destruction of Normal-America.

    This cannot be termed Right vs Left. The self-proclaimed leaders of the “Right” today are acolytes of “former” Trotskyite deep-thinkers who changed their stripes in order to guide American power into wars for their foreign sponsors’ benefit. Is that “conservative?” Or “Right?” What’s “Right” about war-forever and collecting taxes for the welfare state? What’s “Right” about open borders? Manipulation of this paradigm has created strange bedfellows: Remember the strange coalition panting for the head of Moamar Kaddafy? Look at the weird groupings agitating for unlimited immigration. How about the execrable Never-Trumpers’ preaching their imaginary “conservatism” to the Normal-American Deplorables? Bill Kristol deeming what is “Right” and what is not? Through the looking glass political theater. But not “Right.”

    The real political division is defenders of the culture and real political system of the greatest country in the history of the world vs the destroyers.

    The destroyers are best termed Politically Correct Progressives–as their PC belief system is based on denigrating the cultural characteristics that made America great: traditional marriage, capitalism, energetic protection of American interests abroad, liberty and freedom.

    Note that there is nothing there about “Marx.” And no beliefs that are even close to “Marxism.” Terming the destroyers the “Left” or Marxists, or Cultural Marxists is a faulty attempt at definition. And you fall right into the trap of the fake “conservatives.” Once you accept their paradigm, they can lead you where they will, for their own purposes. War in the Middle East anyone? It’s “conservative!”

    If you don’t know what your enemy believes, and you’re unable to define those beliefs clearly, how can you have any effective counter to your opponent?

    You cannot.

  9. Milton Hathaway

    Wow, everybody continues to miss it.

    Yes, it seems to be a basic aspect of human nature that we all know best how things should be. That will never change, and we will NEVER come to a consensus on how exactly things should be. Continually lamenting that lack of consensus is, well, inane. Stupid. Pointless. Silly. (Unless, of course, your only goal is to feel superior in your own mind.)

    As an engineer with a lifetime of real-world experience, I can say that a key to root cause analysis and corrective action is to understand what can’t be changed, the immovable boundary conditions of the problem, and stop beating your head against those particular walls. As to corrective actions, the best ones are self-correcting. If you continually have to manually ‘tweak the system’, and you stay in your job long enough, eventually you spend your entire day manually tweaking all your past remedies. And once you retire, change jobs, or get hit by a bus, your solutions tend to vaporize.

    The only hope we have is to push decisions down to the lowest level. There is zero accountability at the highest levels of government. We don’t know if there is a better way, because there is currently only one way and its kinda working, many people are financially invested in it, and the rest of us are too risk-averse to agree to any significant change to the status quo.

    Maybe a recent example will help make the point. Seattle enacted a “sugary-drink” tax, so much per ounce, that went into effect 1-Jan-2018. Seattle expects the tax to raise $15 million a year, money earmarked for the “homeless problem” money pit. Now, if liberals had succeeded in enacting such legislation on the national level, there would be no choice – either pay the tax or change your consumption habits.

    Costco is not happy about the new tax, of course. Since the tax is applied by the ounce, and Costco’s approach to merchandising is to sell bulk quantities for a surprisingly low unit price, a $15 bulk purchase of one drink item suddenly jumped to $25. In response, Costco just put signs up outside the Seattle stores suggesting nearby Costco stores outside the city limits for beverage purchases. And, of course, once motivated to make the trip outside the city limits, sales tax revenue will follow, and most likely for the whole cart, not just the sugary drink purchase.

    Will Seattle’s new tax raise the budgeted $15M in additional revenue? If history is a guide, no. Will Seattle learn a lesson and rescind the tax? Again, history tells us no – after all, the real underlying purpose of the tax wasn’t to raise revenue. In fact, history tells us that Seattle’s sales tax revenue will be impacted negatively overall as people adjust, but the tax will remain.

    So what is gained? Well, it’s a hidden gain – other cities are closely watching for success/failures to copy relatively risk-free. If we can’t seem to learn from history, maybe we can learn from contemporary failures.

    Instead of criticizing Seattle’s new tax, I applaud it – it couldn’t happen to a nicer, more deserving bunch of folks. And I don’t live there.

    Liberal enclaves implementing their liberal agenda on a local level is a good thing. And who knows, maybe they will eventually get something right, and have something to teach us conservatives after all.

  10. Alan M Breedlove

    Insightful article/post. Thank you! I am reminded of a passage in Roger Scruton’s memoirs about making the world a better place. A very wise priest told him, “The goal of life is not to leave the world a better place, but to leave the world a better man.”

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