Where the media gets its religion information

Georgene Rice of KPDQ-FM interviews Dan Gainer, VP of the Culture and Media Institute, to discuss a survey in the American Journalism Review showing that the anti-Christian Huffington Post and Daily Kos are in the top 5 blogs where media goes to get their information on religion. These are ahead of the one conservative site Townhall.com. Dan Gainer talks about what this study reveals about reporters and its implications.

Georgene: In your review of political reporters, how meaningful is it that journalists tend to go to these liberal, anti-Christian sites as a source of information or inspiration?

Dan: The blogs influence on reporters is huge. It is important because the blogs are where ideas are manufactured. Reporters work a lot on copy-cat journalism. They just replicate the source. An article that runs in the New York Times gets picked up by the Washington Post, then on the nightly news. The Huffington Post at this point is an accepted part of the press corps. So if journalists are reading it as their favorite blog, it says they are getting ideas from them.

Georgene: Do they balance the Huffington Post with other sources that may provide an alternative view to what may be influencing their thinking?

Dan: It doesn’t appear so. By and large the top blogs are all liberal except for Townhall. But it doesn’t appear they read Townhall because they don’t interview people who appear on it.

Geogene: Some may wonder whether it is because there aren’t alternative points of view of equal quality. Is that the reason they may prefer the Huffington Post or does this just reveal what other studies have indicated, that the left-leaning media tend to hold to this view.

Dan: No, there are always resources. They are just choosing to rely on that which is comfortable to them and seems correct to them. It makes sense to them because it is their point of view, and that is key. Journalists view themselves as neutral. Everything to the left of them is liberal and everything to the right is conservative. Well, you have to be really liberal to be considered liberal to them, but you only have to be moderate to be considered conservative.

Georgene: Let’s talk about the Huffington Post as something that is influencing these journalists.

Dan: The Huffington Post launched its religion site just a couple of few months ago. From day one we looked at how they were going to cover religion, and astonishingly, it is the first religion site that hates religion— Christianity, Judaism, the Catholic church. Thirteen of sixteen stories portray Christianity negatively. When you go to their site you’ll find articles talking about the Christian militia and bashing the Catholic church or Judaism.

Georgene: Bill Maher, a regular contributor of the Post’s religion page, posted an article that called Sarah Palin a babbling, barely house-broken, uneducated being and compared her followers to Buddhist monks that hailed a two-year-old toddler as the reincarnation of the sacred Dalai Lama.

Dan: This is not a religion page. This is a propaganda page where they push everything you’d expect to see on the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post, but they see it as something they should push through faith. One of the religion editors described the site as “religious peoples view on controversial issues of the day such as health care, immigration, abortion and gay rights.”

Georgene: You say they also cater to the atheists or non-Christians who make up a significant minority in this country.

Dan: 80% of the people in this country claim that they are Christian, yet half of the Posts stories cater to Atheists or non-Christians. They know that Christians don’t agree with their world view so they spend their time bashing them and when they can’t do that they ignore them.

Georgene: So, we shouldn’t be particularly surprised when we see reporting that touches on religion has that sort of bent because these are the sources that reporters are looking to when forming their content?

Dan: Exactly, and even more, as the media continue to pretend that blog sites like the Huffington Post are a mainstream entity, then conservatives are well armed to know that that is not the case.

Georgene: How can your organization help us better understand what influences the influencers in media?

Dan: Every day we try to look at not just the traditional media, but are increasingly focusing on the web influencers that are extremely well funded. We provide a checks and balance to them. When we see a media feeding frenzy on any Christian leader or denomination, people can go to our website at cultureandmedia.com and we show them what is wrong with those attacks.

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