Most of the discussion of press bias concerns, as it should, slanted news coverage and, to a lesser extent, bias that is reflected over time in editorials and selection of oped authors. But there is another kind that is worthy of at least occasional notice, the flippant, mundane everyday bias revealed by reporters and regular columnists without, apparently, a second (or even first) thought.
A good example appears today in a WaPo column by Evelyn Nieves, who in passing refers to the president as “the born-again Christian in chief.”
And then there’s pure gush, such as this today from one of the regulars, Donna Britt, on appearances:
… first lady Laura Bush’s schoolmarm prettiness is a classic cinematic counterpoint to her husband’s smirking cowboy-ishness. Teresa Heinz Kerry’s lovely, young-for-65 features nicely complement her patrician-looking husband’s….
I’d seen John Edwards dozens of times on TV and in newspaper photos during the Democratic primaries, probably forming some subconscious opinion of how his wife would look. When I finally saw the couple on TV together, I gasped.
It wasn’t that Elizabeth Edwards, 55, isn’t attractive — because she is. Nothing about her was different from millions of other smart, energetic and giving women whom we all know. My visceral reaction was based entirely on the unexpected fact that Mrs. Edwards is what a male friend refers to as “a big girl.” Meaning she’s a bit overweight.
Okay, she’s fat.
In fact Elizabeth Edwards’s chubbiness is less troublesome than Hollywood’s size-zero superstars, who set an unattractive, and dangerous, example for young girls. I’d even suggest that Edwards’s weight gives her husband, well, heft.
I suppose weighty arguments come in all sorts of forms.