Dr Lichter and Mr. Kelly
The Center for Media and Public Affairs was founded in the mid-â€™80s by Robert and Linda Lichter, two academics who have made a career out of claiming to document leftist bias in the news media. Their stated mission was “to conduct scientific studies of how the media treat social and political issues,” and they put great stress on their claim to non-partisanship. “Itâ€™s not in a scholarâ€™s blood to have an ideology,” Robert Lichter told the Washington Post (2/10/92).
The Lichtersâ€™ funding and history belie this stance of objectivity. From 1986 to 1988, Robert Lichter was a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Fund-raising letters for the launch of the Center for Media and Public Affairs contained endorsements from leading right-wing figures like Ronald Reagan, Pat Buchanan, Ed Meese and Pat Robertson.
Robert Lichterâ€™s writings and public statements also indicate a conservative worldview. At a conference sponsored by Accuracy In Media after the Gulf War, according to an AP report (4/27/91), “He said he was disappointed in statements by [Peter] Arnett upon his return from Baghdad that he was in the enemy capital on behalf of all CNN viewers, not just Americans. â€˜I see a trend toward journalists seeing themselves as citizens of the worldâ€™ rather than patriotic Americans, Lichter said.”
Funding for the Center has come from the most prominent foundations of the right, including Smith Richardson (at least $298,000), Olin Foundation ($250,000), JM Foundation ($100,000) and the Coors Foundation ($55,000). (Smith Richardson gave the Center $40,000 in 1987 for its study on PBS.) These foundations also contribute heavily to more overtly right-wing media pressure groups like Reed Irvineâ€™s Accuracy In Media, L. Brent Bozellâ€™s Media Research Center, and David Horowitzâ€™s Committee on Media Integrity.
The Scaife Foundation, another major right-wing funder, gave the Lichters money for their book, The Media Elite, which argued that journalistsâ€™ personal political biases made their work unreliable. (The same argument, of course, could be made about academics like the Lichters.) The study featured in the book, based on interviews with journalists conducted in 1980, was widely criticized by scholars for methodological flaws. (See Columbia Journalism Review, Nov/Dec â€˜85, March/April â€˜87; Journalism Quarterly, Winter â€˜87; Journal of Communication, Spring â€˜88.)
Can you get any more “non-partisan” than this?
(thanks to the many who sent me this link…Joe Conason will have more on this tonight, I have heard)