The Republican debate on CNBC confirms that campaign finance reform would boost the progressive agenda, because it shows the depth of bias in the free media. The questions of reporters–even those who worked for a business news network– tended to be premised on the need for one government program or another to solve a social problem. As William McGurn noted, in the Democratic debate reporters do not grill the candidates with questions from a small government perspective. And CNBC reporters are not the exception; studies show that media reporters lean strongly left.
It is the capacity of the media to shape the political agenda that puts Republicans on the defensive during campaigns. It is only at election time when citizens have more motivation to listen that independent political messages can puncture that progressive agenda control. That is the reason that Progressives want to reduce such messaging. Campaign finance reform magnifies the power of the agenda control that the media has the rest of the year.
One of the best comments in the debate was precisely to this effect, although it was not said in the context of a debate about campaign finance reform. Marco Rubio stated that the mainstream media was a ”Superpac for Democrats.”
I had not intended to make this last week the week of criticizing historians, but I suppose it is turning out that way. As people know, many leading universities, such as MIT and Yale, have made many courses available on line for free. This is a great service. But this does not merely spread knowledge, it also opens a window to the educational bias that is going on in elite college classrooms.
I have been listening to a course given by Yale Historian David Blight entitled The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877. I was interested in the course because I am writing an article this summer involving Reconstruction. So I have listened to the second half of the course.
I would strongly recommend the course based on the content of the history taught as well as the engaging style of lecture. Blight also does a good job of debunking the Dunning school of Reconstruction History, which somehow I was taught as a lad in New York City of all places.
Despite these virtues, Blight’s course has a serious deficiency: his regular expressions of political prejudice. I would say every other lecture has a statement that involves a snide wisecrack attacking modern conservatives or Republicans. These statements have nothing to do with the course. The most recent example involves a crack about how Ronald Reagan is these days generally rated in the top 5 of presidents in American history, but Blight can think of no reason for this, except perhaps that there is an airport name for Reagan.
Now, one might think that these remarks are relatively harmless. But I can tell you as a student in many classrooms with professors who made such remarks, they are not. Imagine for a second that Blight inserted negative statements about blacks or gays in his lectures. I am sure it would be obvious to Blight that this would be seriously inappropriate in part because of the way it would marginalize the black or gay students in the audience as well as leading the other students to view the black or gay students more negatively. It would be a serious misuse of the Professor’s authority in a way that has no connection with the subject matter of the course. Instead, it would be a self indulgent expression of the professor’s prejudices.
In my previous post, Statism I, I defined statism as an excessive and harmful embrace of the power of the state. Today, as a means of showing how prevalent statism is, I want to show how statism has over time infected the standard models of economics – a discipline that is regarded as one of the most pro-market in the academy. My argument as to economics is simple. One of the basic questions in economics is whether matters should be addressed by the market or the government. In comparing these two institutions, one should obviously do so in a fair way…