Concealment of Bias
Partisan activists have increasingly engaged in concealment of bias, presenting themselves or others as fair, neutral non-partisans providing unbiased information and perspectives while in fact pursuing a hidden ideological agenda. Such conduct is deceptive and unethical, and should be denounced by principled individuals regardless of their political affiliation. Resistance.org does not support political candidates, but believes that fair treatment, equal standards, and ethical disclosure apply to all parties.
In 2020, NBC hosted a “town hall” meeting with then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and represented attendees as “undecided” voters. The same individuals had previously been featured on MSNBC as Biden voters.(1) NBC deliberately misrepresented the status of these voters to conduct a scripted campaign event for their favored candidate under false pretenses. ABC similarly represented their 2020 town hall election event as unscripted grassroots democracy featuring ostensibly independent community voices. It was subsequently revealed that selected questioners included a former Obama speechwriter and the wife of a former Pennsylvania Democratic candidate.(2) When this deception was publicly called out, the network was silent, notwithstanding the violation of public trust and journalistic ethics.(3)
The Washington Post, New York Times and other media outlets have made inflammatory reports based on anonymous sources which they represent as impartial whistleblowers or voices of integrity. Only much later does the public learn that these individuals were biased partisans who fabricated false narratives for political gain. Belated corrections are often incomplete when they occur at all.
The New York Times has loudly trumpeted supposed "revelations" from anonymous sources pushing partisan narratives, yet has been conspicuously silent when key claims have been unmasked as false. PBS has also used anonymous "sources" to push political talking points.
The Washington Post issued a massive correction to a January 2021 story of a phone call between the then-Republican president and a Georgia investigator, acknowledging that key quotes in the original report were bogus and debunked by the audio recording.(4) Nonetheless, the misleading headline was retained, and skewed analysis and commentary arising from the original false narrative were never revisited in light of correct facts.
Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson observed:
"This 'correction' is more than a correction, it calls into question the pervasive reliance of the liberal media on anonymous sources in order to attack and undermine Republicans...Almost the entirety of the Russia collusion media effort was based on anonymous sources which turned out to be overblown at best, false at worst, after the Mueller Report was released...This raises the question of whether these sources exist at all, or are fed the answers the liberal media wants to create the appearance of reporting for what in reality is a regurgitation of media talking points."(5)
The Hill media columnist Joe Concha observed that repeatedly, "conjured-up quotes" have come from "a political operative that had an agenda....we had all these unnamed source stories that only seem to go in one direction."
Letters signed by hundreds or thousands of law professors are intended to carry weight as pronouncements of ostensibly fair and knowledgeable experts defending the integrity of the American judicial system. Jeff Sessions' appointment to the office of attorney general was criticized in a letter signed by over 1,000 law professors.(6) Over 2,400 law professors signed a letter opposing Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court as “unfathomable.”(7) Similarly, over 80% of faculty at George Washington University Law School condemned then-Attorney General William Barr and demanded his resignation.(8)
Subsequently, many of the same professors who opposed Brett Kavanaugh downplayed or ignored more substantive allegations against Joe Biden.(9) Some have since acknowledged that opposition to Kavanaugh was not based on a belief in the credibility of the allegations, regarding which some have since acknowledged skepticism (contrary to their early public letter). but on other, presumably ideological, factors. Public grandstanding and outraged letter-writing from law faculty have been conspicuously absent in the face of alleged judicial abuses of leftist administrations,(10) notwithstanding congressional hearings.(11)
The Harvard Gazette acknowledged that lawyers generally identify with leftist politics, elite lawyers even more so, and law professors extremely so.(12) Harvard political science associate professor Maya Sen noted that the anti-Sessions letter “was very quickly dismissed by political observers and by political actors. At Sessions’ hearing, the letter was brought up and mocked, everyone had a good laugh and then it was just set aside.” Sen observed that “having more ideological diversity would benefit the legal academy and the legal profession more broadly,” and is essential for “public credibility and public trust.” Letters circulated by law professors since that time appear to reflect similar biases, and offer little cause for attribution of credibility.
Politicization of Intelligence Community
Over fifty former U.S. intelligence officials representing themselves as impartial, concerned citizens alleged in a public letter that the Hunter Biden laptop emails were “Russian disinformation.” Candidate Joe Biden subsequently used the claim for cover in a presidential debate, stating that “There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that [the Hunter Biden laptop story] is a Russian plan” which “nobody believes” except Trump and Guiliani.(13) Yet the Director of National Intelligence had previously stated that the information on the Hunter Biden laptop is not Russian disinformation,(14) and noted that “there is no information that supports that [claim].”(15) A claim fabricated without evidence by Biden supporters posing as neutral authorities was thus used to provide political cover for the candidate himself and for partisan media organizations which refused to cover the scandal.(16)
An ethically conflicted, non-peer-reviewed “junk science” paper entitled “False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives”(17) employs the logical fallacy of argument from ignorance to arrive at its conclusion of no bias: Twitter refuses to release data on who it bans, therefore, there is no bias. The paper does not meet basic scholarly standards and is not peer-reviewer or published in an academic journal. It was funded by a Biden mega-donor,(18) but the authors failed to disclose key conflicts of interest. This study was subsequently cited by Twitter, ostensibly as scholarly proof of its lack of bias, after the company refused to provide the relevant data.(19) This misdirection illuminates the gaslighting employed by contemporary authoritarians. They obstruct or withhold access to salient data regarding a problem (such as Twitter bias or non-citizen voting), and then claim that the problem is non-existent or imaginary, even a fraudulent contrivance of political enemies who are shouted down.
Another “junk science” paper promotes a similar conclusion that “There is no liberal media bias in which news stories political journalists choose to cover.”(20) While the authors compile some interesting data, their titular conclusion involves sweeping inductive leaps which do not follow from their limited research scenarios. Review demonstrates flaws of scholarship and ideological activism of the authors contrary to their self-representation as neutral academicians. Both of these papers demonstrate the authors’ efforts to validate a preferred political narrative rather than a dispassionate search for truth.
1. Wulfsohn, Joseph. “Undecided voters' at NBC's Biden town hall were featured on MSNBC as Biden voters.” Fox News, October 6, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/undecided-voters-nbc-biden-town-hall
2. Olson, Tyler. “Biden's ABC town hall questioners include former Obama speechwriter, wife of former Pennsylvania Dem candidate.” Fox News, October 16, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-town-hall-questioners-former-obama-speechwriter-wife-pennsylvania-democrat
3. Wulfsohn, Joseph. “ABC silent after Biden town hall attendees identified as ex-Obama speechwriter, wife of prominent Democrat.” Fox News, October 17, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/abc-silent-biden-town-hall-attendees-identified-dems
4. Gardner, Amy. "Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction." Washington Post, March 11, 2021 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-call-georgia-investigator/2021/01/09/7a55c7fa-51cf-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
5. Flood, Brian. "Washington Post's 'find the fraud' correction points to larger issue with agenda-driven anonymous sources." Fox News, March 16, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/washington-posts-find-the-fraud-correction-anonymous
6. Wang, Amy X. “Objection! Thousands of professors from 176 US law schools oppose Trump’s attorney-general pick." Quartz, January 4, 2017. https://qz.com/877812/thousands-of-professors-from-176-us-law-schools-oppose-jeff-sessions-donald-trumps-attorney-general-pick/
7. Svrluga, Susan. ‘Unfathomable’: More than 2,400 law professors sign letter opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation." Washington Post, October 4, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2018/10/04/unprecedented-unfathomable-more-than-law-professors-sign-letter-after-kavanaugh-hearing/
8. Adams, Susan. "Scathing Letter By George Washington University Law School Faculty Condemns Attorney General William Barr." Forbes, June 26, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2020/06/26/scathing-letter-by-george-washington-university-law-school-faculty-condemns-attorney-general-william-barr/
9. Re, Gregg. "As Biden gives commencement address, Columbia Law faculty who opposed Kavanaugh downplay Tara Reade accusations." Fox News, May 20, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-columbia-faculty-kavanaugh-tara-reade
10. Shapiro, Ilya. "Top 10 Ways Obama Violated the Constitution during His Presidency." Cato Institute, January 19, 2017. https://www.cato.org/commentary/top-10-ways-obama-violated-constitution-during-presidency
11. "Obama Administration's Abuse of Power." Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives. September 12, 2012. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg75846/pdf/CHRG-112hhrg75846.pdf
12. "Gauging the bias of lawyers." Harvard Gazette, August 2017. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/08/analyst-gauges-the-political-bias-of-lawyers/
13. Bertrand, Natasha. “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.” Politico, October 19, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/19/hunter-biden-story-russian-disinfo-430276
14. Moore, Mark. “DNI John Ratcliffe says info on Hunter Biden laptop isn’t Russian disinformation.” New York Post, October 19, 2020. https://nypost.com/2020/10/19/john-ratcliffe-info-on-hunter-biden-laptop-not-russian-disinformation/
15. Singman, Brooke. “Ratcliffe says Hunter Biden laptop, emails 'not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.'” Fox News, October 19, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ratcliffe-hunter-biden-laptop-emails-not-russian-disinformation-campaign
16. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. "Liberal media teamed up for ‘smear campaign’ to dismiss The Post’s Hunter Biden story." New York Post, December 11, 2020. https://nypost.com/2020/12/11/liberal-medias-smear-campaign-against-the-posts-hunter-biden-story/
17. Barrett, Paul M. and J. Grant Sims. “False Accusation:The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives.” New York University, February 2021. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b6df958f8370af3217d4178/t/60187b5f45762e708708c8e9/1612217185240/NYU+False+Accusation_2.pdf
18. Flood, Brian. “Study dismissing conservative concerns about Big Tech bias was funded by far-left Biden mega-donor.” Fox News, February 2, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/study-dismissing-conservative-concerns-big-tech-bias-funded-joe-biden-mega-donor
19. Carlson, Tucker. “Tucker Carlson: NYU's farce of a study on Big Tech censorship of conservatives.” Fox News, February 2, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-big-tech-censorship-nyu-study-craig-newmark
20. Hassell, Hans J.G., John B. Holbein, and Matthew R. Miles. “There is no liberal media bias in which news stories political journalists choose to cover.” Science Advances 6/14 (1 April 2020). https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/14/eaay9344