My own stance is that the mainstream media is actually split both ways and represents a reasonable split of all the biases as opposed to a clear shift in one direction or the other. For the most part, I find that either side complains about biases towards the other side. Conservatives have had a great deal of share in talk radio for years now. Liberals have had papers like the NY Times. Conservatives have had Fox. Liberals have had CBS.
Part of the shift away from reporting just the facts is something I blame on Edward R. Murrow. Consider his quote from the RTNDA speech:
"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box."
He's not entirely wrong. You can't merely report facts, you're compelled as a journalist to provide interpretations as well. People don't care about history because they don't see the relevance. Too often, they're unaware that what will become history is happening around them and they are honor bound to adjust it as they see fit -- especially in a democracy. Murrow added in his broadcast on Senator McCarthy:
"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the Republic to abdicate his responsibility."
CBS had a policy of providing equal time -- a hopelessly naive way of providing an opposing side of the argument, but one that's time honored.
It is with this in mind that I alert you to a particular quiet bit of news. It's reported by the Associated Press in the LA Times in a very short form -- obviously something that came off the wire and was tossed in with only the headline tweaked.
Essentially, the elections coordinator and ballot manager in Ohio have been convicted of voter fraud during the 2004 presidential election. My reading of it is that the poll workers in question were working to prevent a situation like Florida in the 2000 election by screening ballots. No mention is given to their particular bias or criteria for screening, though I read that they were removing votes of questionable intent instead of votes for one candidate or another.
I should add that my reading prefers incompetence to malice and attaches no particular significance to Ohio's importance in the 2004 election.
Now I ask you -- is this story's coverage in the MSM an example of liberal, conservative, or neither bias?