It’s Time for Kevin Cramer to Give up on His Media Bias Crusade


North Dakota Representative Kevin Cramer speaks Sunday, April 3, 2016, at the ND GOP Convention at Scheels Arena in Fargo of his choice to endorse Donald Trump for president. Rick Abbott / The Forum

According to the Associated Press, Congressman Kevin Cramer’s efforts to hold broadcast television outlets responsible for bias isn’t going well. Specifically, the broadcasters are ignoring the Congressman:

GRAND FORKS – Months after U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., sent three broadcast news giants a questionnaire on media bias, he’s heard nothing back — and he said that, for now, he’s moving on.

“I’ve had a response in that I haven’t heard back from any of the network executives,” he said recently, blasting the “unconscionable” decision of executives at NBCUniversal, CBS Corp. and ABC Television Group to ignore his March 31 letter. “I consider their arrogance or indifference to be a message, and I take it as much. No response is a response to me.”

Cramer is right about one thing. The lack of response to his letter is, in fact, a response. The broadcasters simply don’t care what a North Dakota Congressman thinks about their biases.

Which isn’t to say that Cramer is wrong to perceive bias. It’s real. It’s pervasive far beyond broadcast television. And the professional journalists simply don’t care about it.

Journalism is an industry very concerned with things like gender and racial diversity – media companies launch programs to address those issues all the time – but talking about viewpoint diversity is taboo.

That’s a problem, particularly when the political outlook of everyone from reporters on national television shows to local reporters is more visible than ever before. If you don’t think this industry leans left, seek out your local reporters and editors on social media. See which links they’re sharing. See what hot takes they have on the news of the day.

All of which is to say that the problem Cramer has identified is real. It’s just that he’s trying to use his power as an agent of the Government to fix it.

That’s wrong. It’s time for Cramer to stop tilting at this particular wind mill. The fix for biased media reporting will come from the marketplace. It already has, in many ways.

The 2016 elections were nothing if not an object lesson in how powerful conservative media has become. Outlets like Breitbart, the Daily Caller, and the Drudge Report can, love them or hate them, move the needle with national audiences. Yet their power, their reach, is rooted in what more traditional media outlets haven’t been doing. Which is serve and represent right-of-center audiences well.

Leaders like Cramer ought to keep talking about media bias, because it is a real problem. But Cramer, specifically, should stop trying to use the government to fix it.

There are better ways he could be spending his time.