Friday, February 11, 2005

You're Biased, I'm Not

A response to "You're Biased, I'm Not" by Dick Meyer -- in the "Against the Grain" column at, Feb 9, 2005.  Is it really a good idea for somebody at CBS News to go on record yet again denying bias?  You decide.

People who accuse other people of being biased while maintaining their own liberation from all bias are pre-sophomoric. I'm not sure they are freshmen. They are certainly fools.


If someone accuses you of being biased, the conversation is over. You're not going to convince them that you're not biased or that they are biased, too. Someone who plays the bias card does not want to understand another perspective even out of curiosity. They just want to hear things they agree with and be able to dismiss all the rest.

  -- Dick Meyer

[Read his article in order to fully understand my response.]

It seems to me that it is not the person who "plays the bias card" who is a fool. Rather, it is he who denies his own bias who is fooling himself.

When someone accuses me of bias, the conversation is not over; it has just begun. I am likely to confess it and ask the person to explain where he felt my bias crept in. If he does not convince me of my bias, I keep it to myself. No need to argue the inarguable, since, if I am indeed biased, then it goes without saying I would be blind to it.

But this does not mean that I disavow my opinion. There is no need to disavow or hide my opinion. Holding, articulating, even shouting my opinion at times, is entirely appropriate. Because that's what human beings do -- it's how we sort truth from fiction.

I love opinion. It's my favorite section of the newspaper. I perversely enjoy being riled by the op-ed pieces that annoy me, because they inspire me to sharpen, adapt and change my thinking on issues that matter to me. But when I see opinion outside the op-ed pages, I feel a kind of nausea. It is misrepresenting fact in the name of reporting it.

The weirdness creeps in (and it is creepy) when people disavow their bias. Do they think their readers are fools? Apparently so. It is no far stretch to prove bias at the NY Times or the Washington Times -- even outside their respective opinion pages.

However, I now get accused of being biased almost as much by the left as the right, but the e-mail from the left is now meaner.

Only a newsman would claim that just because one receives criticism from both the right and the left, he is hewing to the center. Imagine a drunk driver weaving down the road, banging into property on both sides. He would certainly get an equal number of complaints from either side of the road. Please don't offer this as evidence of his good sense of direction!

And yet I believe this is analogous to the way Dick Meyer rationalizes ignoring his own bias. But then I could be wrong. I'm biased, after all.

No comments: