“Leading the conversation” is how you end up with the major Sunday shows somehow neglecting to invite a single anti-amnesty politician on a weekend dominated by the immigration debate. It’s how you end up with officially nonideological anchors and journalists lecturing social conservatives for being out of step with modern values. And it’s how you end up with a press corps that went all-in for the supposed “war on women” having to be shamed and harassed — by two writers in particular, Kirsten Powers in USA Today and Mollie Ziegler Hemingway of GetReligion — into paying attention to the grisly case of a Philadelphia doctor whose methods of late-term abortion included snipping the spines of neonates after they were delivered.
As the last example suggests, the problem here isn’t that American journalists are too quick to go on crusades. Rather, it’s that the press’s ideological blinders limit the kinds of crusades mainstream outlets are willing to entertain, and the formal commitment to neutrality encourages self-deception about what counts as crusading.