Have any of you taken up my challenge to read the David Shaw series on abortion coverage? (Rather quiet on the comments front, in light of this barrage.) E.J. Dionne Jr. of The Washington Post is thinking along the same lines -- that the best tribute to the work of the late David Shaw is to read the man's reporting. After all, it was about detail, detail, detail and awesome research. Here is the abortion coverage section of Dionne's tribute, under the headline "The Media's Good Cop." Shaw was
. . . celebrated by many and derided by some for a lengthy 1990 report showing -- conclusively, I think -- that "the news media consistently use language and images that frame the entire abortion debate in terms that implicitly favor abortion-rights advocates."
Shaw showed that abortion rights advocates "are often quoted more frequently and characterized more favorably than are abortion opponents." His conclusion "that abortion is essentially a class issue in the United States" and that reporters reflected an upper-middle-class bias applies across a broad range of other questions. I'd argue that this bias points the media to the right on economic issues. What matters here is that Shaw had the essential trait of the best press critics: He could almost always see through his own biases.
Shaw took a lot of grief for his abortion series, but don't think he was somehow "anti-feminist." In 1991 he wrote a series on how the gender of editors affected coverage of stories on sex. Women, he found, tended to favor greater candor in reports on rape, AIDS and the private lives of politicians -- and he pointed to a shortage of female editors.
Note that dead-on Dionne reference to the MSM's elite roots pointing it left on culture and right on economics. Amen, preach it. At least that is what this premodern populist thinks.