Did you know that every single target of the National Organization for Women in the U.S. Senate was reelected? Did you know that every single one of the state candidates the National Woman's Political Caucus swore to get, was victorious? Did you know that the overall win record of NCPAC (all candidates, including incumbents) was 70 percent, better than the AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Education, which claimed to have a banner year. Not if you read The Washington Post or watched any of the major networks on election night.
If you followed big media's election coverage you would have heard a great deal about NCPAC. All of it wrong. On Thursday, The Post reported three completely different win records for NCPAC. Reporters Paul Taylor and Thomas Edsall said NCPAC won one out of 14 Senate races. Reporter David Broder in the same paper said our win record was one of 17. Reporters Richard Harwood and Howard Kurtz claim our win record was one out of nine. (While all these are wrong, they were better than CBS News, which said we did not win a single race, something that Paul Trible, Chic Hecht and the eight incumbent U.S. senators NCPAC supported for reelection will find disconcerting.) By the way, none of these five Post reporters or CBS News bothered to call NCPAC to check their "facts."
But wait: The Post changed its mind again about our win record the next day, Nov. 5 -- twice. In an editorial, The Post said NCPAC won one out of six races. In the same newspaper, reporter Bill Peterson said we lost 16 out of 17 of our original "hit list." And get this little zinger from Peterson: "Only Sen. Howard W. Cannon (D- Nev.), plagued with other problems, lost." In other words, we really didn't win in the race The Post admitted a day earlier we did.
What's going on here? Don't the editors of The Post read their own paper (not that I would blame them if they didn't)? Isn't a newspaper reporting five different and conflicting "facts" participating in distortions? Or, at the very least, isn't this egregious sloppiness, a thing the newspaper claims to find so reprehensible in NCPAC's advertising campaigns?
It is intriguing that the leaders of the Democratic Party held a news conference on Thursday to proclaim victory over their opponents. But guess who they said their opponents were? Not the Republican Party, which spent millions on candidate support and institutional advertising, and was successful in unseating only one Democratic House incumbent. The Democrats singled out NCPAC and Sen. Jesse Helms as their "real opponents." Sen. Robert Byrd said NCPAC was "on the way out" and that the Republican Party would be in trouble if it "ties its future to the radical right."
Well, I am sure the Republican Party will appreciate advice from a man who wants to destroy it. But more important is this: if the Democratic Party, which lost 12 Senate seats in 1980, didn't wither up and blow away, NCPAC, which won 70 percent of the races in which it was involved in 1982, certainly won't either.
Still, I guess Sen. Helms and I should be flattered that the Democrats consider us to be their real opposition. And in a certain respect, they are right. The conservative movement poses the real challenge to the left-wing leadership of the Democratic Party. Party Chairman Charles Manatt's support of forced busing, huge budget deficits and slashing American's defense represents only a few Democrat elitists, not the mainstream of the Democratic Party, and the conservative movement is willing to point that out.
What's really going on here with the Democratic leadership and the big media is quite simple.
Manatt is desperate to discredit NCPAC, and he knows he will get the cooperation of The Post and the rest of the big media. Survey after survey shows that the reporters and editors of big media are sharply to the political left of the American mainstream. That is why the statements of leftists like Manatt are accepted with so few questions. Manatt is, after all, telling the media exactly what they want to hear.
Yet accusing the media of bias against conservatives is not a new or interesting charge. What is interesting is this: the increasing irrelevance of that bias, at least to conservatives.
We used to worry about bad coverage from the networks and papers like The Post and The New York Times. Not any more. If anyone ought to worry about the obvious media bias, it is big media itself. We're on to you guys. Not only conservatives, but the public as well. We know you are more interested in your private political agenda than in honest reporting of the news. It's no surprise that big media's credibility among the public is virtually defunct.
Big media didn't see conservatives coming in 1980. They first ignored us in 1982, and then abused us. And they will do the same in 1983 and 1984. And you know what? We don't care.
Conservatism will continue to grow and prosper in preparation for the 1984 presidential election, and The Post and other left-wing news organizations can't do anything about it. That is what infuriates Charles Manatt, and, more important, that is what infuriates The Post and the networks.
It explains their extraordinary lack of balance, absence of judgment and vulgarization of an important and critical undertaking: the business of gathering and reporting the news fairly and accurately.