Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is The Wild Hunt Politically Biased? (Long)

I am a big fan of The Wild Hunt blog, now safely ensconced at Patheos.com and still as always written by Jason Pitzl-Waters. I'm a regular reader and have been for years, and I occasionally jump into the comments.

In recent months, however, I've perceived a certain level of bias in Jason's reporting of things with a political element. While such things are hardly unexpected-- the media in general has a fairly obvious and well-documented bias towards liberal points of view as an institution, and what few surveys there have been of the Pagan community have revealed that the overwhelming majority identify themselves as Democrats and/or liberal-progressives --it was increasingly dismaying, as I like to think of myself as someone who waits until there is actually evidence before jumping to conclusions, especially those that reinforce my own politically partisan preconceptions (which are a blend of conservative and libertarian ideas which defy any sort of neat labeling).

So when Rick Perry, governor of Texas and presumptive Republican Presidential candidate, announced his evangelical Christian prayer rally "The Response", Jason and the Wild Hunt were all over it. Jason attempts to make the case that Perry is in cahoots with the leadership of the New Apostolic Reformation, and The Response is a NAR event. Since the NAR is avowedly anti-Pagan, so too must Perry be, and thus both Perry and his event should be attacked. Or so goes the logic.

However, as I mentioned both here and in the comments on the Wild Hunt, there is absolutely no evidence that Perry endorses the NAR's positions either politically, socially, or theologically. There's plenty of evidence that the NAR is trying to glom onto Perry and his Response event, but nothing that I've seen indicates that their love for Perry is in any way reciprocated.

So I mentioned my impression that Jason's coverage of the event seemed biased, trying to link Republicans in general, and Perry in particular, to something that really wasn't warranted. I made the observation that, to my mind, that was a part of an ongoing anti-Republican bias on Jason's part, and challenged the group to provide three examples of anti-Democrat, and pro-Republican posts on the Wild Hunt in the last year to prove me wrong.

To his credit, Jason stepped up and answered the challenge. Here is his response:
My coverage of Dan Halloran's career has been very fair, and generally positive.


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/tag/dan-halloran


Here's me criticizing the "religious left".


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/2011/05/jim-wallis-and-the-religious-left.html


Here I spotlight a Democratic candidate in Florida who had deep ties to the NAR movement.


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/2011/04/the-anti-pagan-florida-democrat.html

There are other examples I could provide, but all of those are from 2011.
Before I go on, I would like to give all due credit to Jason for providing these sorts of examples rather than simply ignoring my post. I know I've been something of a thorn in his side on this particular issue, and I commend  him for taking the time to engage with me on the subject.

That said, I think it's fairly obvious that he did not manage to jump the (very low) hurdle I set. He provides only two anti-Democrat links, and one of those (the criticism of the "religious left") was, in fairness, not so much anti-Democrat as a complaint that the Democrats had chosen as their Christian stalking horse someone who was not sufficiently deferential to the homosexual community. Telling Democrats "you're not being liberal enough" is hardly an example of disproving a pro-liberal/anti-conservative bias!

As far as the pro-Republican link that Jason provides (and in all candor I've known Dan Halloran for many years, was once a member of his tribe, and consider him a friend), I would argue that it does not necessarily make the point of a balanced approach to Republicans and conservatives. If anything, the articles about Dan Halloran can be said to be "not negative", but I cannot see anything in them that is decidedly "pro Republican". Perhaps for a political liberal, however, deigning to *not* insult a Republican is in and of itself a positive endorsement, and Jason misses few opportunities to put in potentially negative links and commentary.
Nonetheless, I don't see anything in those Dan Halloran posts that is pro Republican.

So, when asked for three examples of pro-Republican and anti-Democrat posts over the last year, I am given several at-least-I'm-not-anti-Republican posts, one Democrats-aren't-liberal-enough post, and one actual post critical of a Democrat. I'm sorry, Jason, but you missed the bar, and I stand by my opinion that the Wild Hunt blog is written with a bias (perhaps unconscious) in favor of Democrats and liberals, and against Republicans and conservatives.

2 comments:

  1. Jason Pitzl-WatersAugust 4, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    Well, I'm sorry you feel that way. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm not a conservative, but have tried to be fair to all political points of view. I don't think my reporting on Perry has been "anti-Republican" as you classify it. Nor do I think his connections with NAR are as non-existent as you would have it. My posts at The Wild Hunt are not filled with anti-Republican screeds or GOTV efforts on behalf of Democrats. I'm not constantly praising Obama, or any Democrat for that matter. TWH has never officially endorsed a candidate, nor will it. If my reporting hasn't leapt over your bar, it is because you alone control where that bar is placed.

    I will continue to endeavor to be as fair as I can be, and you are always free to continue criticizing that coverage here, or at my comments section.

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  2. Just to clarify, I don't believe I ever said that Perry's links to the NAM were "non-existent". I merely said that no convincing evidence to support the notion that he shares their ideology and/or theology had been presented. If we eventually have such evidence, I'll be the first to decry him.

    I would also point out that the bar I set was very much on the low end of the scale. I daresay an attempt to find three posts critical of Republicans here int he last year would be met with considerably more success.

    In any event, I'm glad we can have a civil discussion on this (and other) things, even though we're obviously on opposite ends of the political spectrum. I meant what I said about liking your blog, despite the occasional forays into partisan politics.

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