Press bias for progress…

Jack Shafer loves gridlock. It seems much of the press does not for reasons that may smack of liberal bias. Shafer says:

For conservatives who find evidence of the liberal media conspiracy everywhere they look, the Broder take on gridlock looks like liberal bias. Which, of course, it is. When Republicans go on a parliamentary tear, passing, for example, a tax cut, the Broderites don’t celebrate the clearing of the legislative blockage. But it also speaks to the journalistic preference of something to report rather than nothing. From the press gallery, congressional gridlock looks like a 0-0 soccer match in the rain with no shoot-out in sight. Who wants to write about that? Where are the visuals?

The preference for something over nothing suggests the press does have a bias in favor of a limited notion of progress. Some of the social, political, and commercial thinking over the last 200 years is based on this general theory of progress: People are moving ever forward toward a better world of justice, freedom, technological advancement, prosperity, and _____ you fill in the rest. So the argument goes: How can you get there if Congress isn’t passing legislation, if they are spending so much time fighting rather than working? Zero legislation equals zero progress, and progress is not only good; it’s inevitable.

Now I question Shafer’s assertion that gridlock looks like a 0-0 soccer game. So much of political reporting focuses on personality-driven drama that I would think gridlock offers reporters the best possible situation. Notice, however, that Shafer does not quote a reporter or an editor. He quotes pundits. Different animal. For them, gridlock is good when it accomplishes a partisan goal and bad when it thwarts a partisan goal as he suggests.

I suspect the people are comfortable with gridlock most of the time because it keeps their legislators from causing a lot of mischief.