Conservatives complained after the NBC/Politico debate on Wednesday night that the questions were biased and hostile. Bill O’Reilly and Bernard Goldberg debated last night whether conservatives have a fair complaint. Goldberg authored Bias, the seminal look at liberal bias in the national news media, but in this case concludes that the questions were legitimate — even if the way a few were framed revealed bias. As he does in his book, Goldberg concludes that whatever bias did exist may not be entirely intentional — but a symptom of the media’s echo chambers:
It’s an interesting exchange, even I don’t entirely agree with Goldberg — and don’t entirely disagree with him, either. The questions, when they eventually came, were legitimate questions. That’s true of the death-penalty question, too. However, John Harris and Brian Williams kept framing the questions with long lead-ins with unsourced statistical data that were cherry-picked to ask two of the three governors in the race (Perry and Romney), in essence, “Why does your state suck?” Both men handled the questions well, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the two moderators were engaging in narrative-building for their own purposes, either.
Be sure to stick around for the final two minutes of the clip, though, when Goldberg — tongue firmly placed in cheek — scolds O’Reilly for suggesting that the MSNBC panel of its prime-time hosts for the post-debate analysis wasn’t “balanced.”