The New York Times faced a massive amount of online backlash over what people saw as “blatant media bias.” The controversy came because of the description the paper used of the GOP candidate in the Wisconsin Senate race.
The Times was making a report on the debate this past Thursday between Republican Senator Ron Johnson, the incumbent, and Mandela Barnes, his Democratic opponent for Wisconsin’s United States Senate seat.
Senator Johnson and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes of Wisconsin had what everyone considered to be a respectful first debate. They both met again on Sunday night, but this debate would feature the opportunity for rebuttals making the interaction much more lively.
The New York Times wrote a tweet that described Johnson as a “leading peddler of misinformation” while describing Barnes as a “liberal Democrat who has been touted as one of the party’s rising stars.”
Critics immediately made their feelings known to The Times on social media.
“I’m sensing a mild leaning towards one of the candidates over the other. It’s subtle, but if you look closely, I think you’ll be able to see what I found,” one person tweeted.
“Not even making a show of pretense anymore,” replied Jon Levine of the New York Post.
“This has to be one of the most jaw-dropping examples of blatant media bias in existence,” another tweet read.
“NYT at least isn’t trying to hide its extreme partisanship, bias and electioneering,” read another response.
In the most recent polls on this race, Johnson had a fairly large lead over Barnes. The separation between the candidates was 52% to 46%. Most experts believe that Republicans will win enough seats in the midterms to get control of the House of Representatives, but the Senate will stay in control of the Democrats.
Where did the liberal media bias come from?
Dan Rather was a CBS News institution and he had some well-researched biases of his own. He said that the liberal media bias was a “myth.” But during his tenure, the conservative movement in America came into its own. The media in the mid to late 20th century was basically three major networks and a handful of newspapers and news magazines. They were mostly in New York City, but this group also included the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and a handful of similarly liberal big-city newspapers.
During this era, the media was extremely powerful in setting the political agenda, and the fledging conservative movement had to swim upstream against a liberal media current.
Harvard University eventually developed what they called an Implicit Bias Test so that an organization could learn if they had implicit biases around issues like race, gender, sexuality, disability, indigeneity, age, size, and nationality.
After the Sunday debate between Senator Johnson and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the Democrats are focused on shoring up voter turnout in Milwaukee. They are bringing in a closer with big political guns, former President Barack Obama. This is becoming the fourth most expensive Senate race in the country, reaching up to $150 million on TV ads alone.
The closing statements at the debate gave clues as to where they see the race heading in these closing weeks.
Johnson tried to tie Barnes to national Democrats, claiming he would be “a rubber stamp” for President Joe Biden and Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
Johnson said, “Wisconsin voters ought to be asking, ‘are you better off or worse off since Democrats took control? Considering 40-year high inflation, record gas prices, skyrocketing crime, an open border (flooded) with deadly drugs, I think it’s very obvious most people are worse off.”
Barnes accused Johnson of attempting to hide and distract “from his failed record.” He said that people across the state do not have much in common with self-serving out-of-touch politicians. And Barnes said that women’s lives and their health are on the line as he criticized Johnson on the abortion issue.
The media bias surrounding this race may not be enough to win the race.