Media Darlings

By selecting people to quote or to interview for a news story who advocate Big Government, a reporter can give favorable coverage to a Big Government opinion while pretending to report the news objectively. This is especially true when the interviewee can be portrayed as authoritative, e.g., an elected official, a pollster, an academic, or a think tank spokesperson.

Using media darlings to do the media's bidding for Big Government is a very common technique. Almost everyone who is granted interviews in the press represents a Big Government point of view. It is rare for someone who truly advocates small government, i.e., their proposals pass the Weight Watchers Test, to be granted major media exposure (see Media Blackballs).

Media darlings include not only people and organizations that expressly advocate for Big Government. They are also people who appear to oppose it - but who in reality aid and abet Big Government. Or who simply present no threat to the Big Government status quo because they call for "holding the line" on government rather than actually shrinking it. This allows the media to give the false impression that all sides are covered - expand Big Government or keep Big Government big - when in fact both these views support Big Government. Real balance requires inclusion of proposals to shrink Big Government and make government small.

To find out if people quoted in a news story are for small government, try an Internet search on them. This can often reveal a Big Government bias or agenda if they or their organization ever supported a Big Government politician; if their staff members are linked to Big Government (e.g., ex-staffers for a congressman), or if any of their policy proposals fail the Weight Watchers Test.

Example:

The Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation appears, by its name, to support taxpayers. One would expect them to routinely oppose taxation. However they routinely support tax increases and oppose tax cuts.

Their President, Michael Widmer, was the Press Secretary for Governor Michael Dukakis in the 1980s (that should be a big hint!) and was the primary opponent of the 2002 Massachusetts ballot initiative to end the state income tax.

The only tax cuts MTF supports are targeted ones that benefit certain businesses which donate to MTF and help to pay Widmer's $300,000-plus per year salary.

Because he opposes broad-based tax cuts and generally supports increases in government spending, Michael Widmer is a media darling for every major news outlet in the state. But rather than identifying him as a Big Government advocate, he and his group are often portrayed as "government watchdogs", thus appearing independent of government interests.

Sometimes MTF is identified as representing "business interests". But even this is misleading, because it only represents those businesses which benefit from targeted tax cuts or who profit from state spending or state protectionism. Many businesses are left out of this equation and are hurt by MFT proposals. Especially small businesses.

The Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation is the consummate insider, given access to government data by politicians who refuse to make that data available to the general public or to the media. The media often quotes MTF because they need data for a news story.

But the media could get government data easily if they made a regular practice of exposing Big Government politicians and bureaucrats who refuse to open the government's books. By blowing the whistle on government financial cover-ups, politicians would be forced to make insider information available to everyone.

Because the major media advocates Big Government, they have as much of a vested interest in keeping the books closed as the politicians do. So they don't mind having to depend on groups like MTF as long as it's doing their bidding - pushing for more Big Government under the auspices of merely reporting the "news".