The percentage of full-time U.S. journalists who claim to be Republican dropped from 18 percent in 2002 to 7.1 percent in 2013, according to a study by Indiana University professors Lars Willnat and David H. Weaver. In 1971, the first time the survey was conducted (this is its fifth incarnation), some 25.7 percent of journalists polled said the identified as Republican.James Oliphant writes at National Journal that the Obama White House can rely on liberal bloggers and reporters to support its positions and attack its critics. Oliphant notes that the White House gives them special access:
The number of journalists identifying as independent is at 50.2 percent, the highest percentage since the survey began, and the number identifying as Democrat dropped to 28.1 percent. Of those polled, 14.6 percent identified as “other.” That means nearly 65 percent of journalists polled don't identify with either of the major parties.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza notes two caveats to those numbers: The first, is that the study is among all reporters, not just political reporters whose party identification may be a lot different. Second, “the movement toward independent status among reporters is in keeping with a similar move in the broader electorate as they find the two parties increasingly rigid and, therefore, less welcoming.”
Consider: A search of White House records shows Ezra Klein, then with The Washington Post's Wonkblog, visiting more than 25 times since 2009; last week, a Post story detailed the travails of Lesley Clark, a White House reporter for McClatchy who has been to the Oval Office three times in the last three years, and has asked one question directly to Obama in all that time.Oliphant notes that the liberal bloggers often refrain from criticizing Obama lest they help the other side.
The hope, from the White House's perspective, is that progressive media elites sway the mainstream press. "Obviously, all journalists are reading each other on Twitter," says Tim Miller, executive director of the conservative America Rising PAC and a former spokesman for Jon Huntsman. "If you've got very articulate, passionate bloggers on the left who are making arguments why something shouldn't be news, that might have a shaming effect on other journalists who might not want to be mocked or who might be convinced by their arguments."
Joan Walsh, an editor-at-large at Salon, brought this tension to a head last year when she slammed Klein for being too critical of the Obamacare rollout and, in essence, giving aid and comfort to the enemy. "On one hand, yes, it's important for Democrats to acknowledge when government screws up, and to fix it," Walsh wrote. "On the other hand, when liberals rush conscientiously to do that, they only encourage the completely unbalanced and unhinged coverage of whatever the problem might be."
Unbalanced. Interesting word for a card-carrying member of the progressive media to use.