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By Evan Siegfried

Members of the media were shocked as he was supposedly revealed as incredibly anti-woman presidential candidate, perhaps even the most ever nominated by a major political party in the modern era. He had admitted that he reduced women to objects and the Democrats pounced, seeking to make him lose him the support of women and, in turn, the presidency.

I'm not talking about the media coverage of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and the "Access Hollywood" tape, but his predecessor, Mitt Romney.

His sin? Saying that he had “binders full of women” that he was looking at appointing to key positions were he elected president. Sure, it was an awkward way of stating a fairly innocuous fact about how elected executives begin their transition efforts — with resumes of candidates for every position under the sun —- well before an election is held. Yet, the media and commentators came for Mitt Romney and they did so with guns blazing, as he was portrayed as an anti-woman extremist... for making a concerted effort to hire women to serve in his administration as governor of Massachusetts.

The entire ordeal is part of an ever-growing list of examples in which the media seemed to be biased, whether consciously or not, against Republicans.

Conservatives were rightly upset when at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, the USA Today editorial board parroted, almost verbatim, a claim of the then president’s that his administration had been scandal-free. While this was done by the editorial board of a major newspaper, the line was repeated by many journalists, including by NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, despite Republican investigations into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, the investigation into the ATF's Fast and Furious program and the investigation into the Obama Administration's federal guarantees for Solyndra, among others.

The lack of acknowledgement of actual scandals that were investigated by Congress perfectly encapsulated how the vast majority of the media would not challenge Obama and had a bit too much of a cozy relationship with him. There is nothing wrong with the White House press corps being friendly with a president or his aides (these things happen, especially since they are in constant contact with one another), but it crosses a line of journalistic integrity when that relationship impacts reporters' ability to provide objective coverage and challenge assertions made by an administration. They rightly hold Donald Trump to account — though some do so with a bit too much zeal.

Conscious bias or not, such practices do not engender trust in the media amongst conservatives. They only reinforce the belief that the media seeks to defend their ideological allies on the left and persecute those on the right while claiming to be objective.

This idea that the media is made up of unselfconsciously liberal elites who don't even recognize the biases they have against conservative policies and conservatives in general goes back decades, to when newsrooms were more or less homogenous in nearly every way. At first, conservatives fought back by founding their own magazines; after Watergate and in the midst of the Reagan administration and liberals' contempt for him, organizations like the Media Research Center began cataloguing the myriad examples of biased coverage, both large and small.

And there was a lot to catalogue, from opinion pages heavily weighted in favor of liberals to reportage and analysis that looks a lot more like the opinion of the writers than unbiased coverage.

Americans in general have begun to catch on: 66 percent of Americans believe that the media has a hard time separating fact from opinion and, according to a recent Gallup poll, 62 percent of the country believes that the press is biased one way or the other in their reporting.

So when CNN, NBC News, Fox News, or another outlet break a hard news story, there is a good chance that a large swathe of the public won’t view it as legitimate news.

And politicians, right and left, are taking advantage of this.

The entire ordeal is part of an ever-growing list of examples in which the media seemed to be biased, whether consciously or not, against Republicans.

Before Donald Trump, there was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who in 2014 accused the media of “dividing us” because they asked him about some protesters who had chanted "NYPD is the KKK" and calling for police officers to be killed. He also accused the media of McCarthyism when they dug into the personal life of an aide of his, who reportedly had a relationship with a convicted murderer. The mayor also publicly and privately accused Bloomberg News of being biased against him, since it is owned by his predecessor. However, de Blasio is not terribly popular within his own party, so Democrats in New York did not buy what he was selling.

Donald Trump, however, was able to effectively weaponize people's distrust of the media, especially among his base. He and his supporters dismiss any news that does not portray him in a positive light, labeling it “fake news.” Trump received almost no pushback at all from the GOP base when he called the press the “enemy of the people.” A June 2018 Axios/SurveyMonkey poll revealed that 92 percent of Republicans believe that the media intentionally reports false stories.

Trump, then, moved beyond the media and his critics to now accuse facts themselves as arrayed against him. To hear the president tell it, reality has an anti-Trump bias — and his supporters are eating it up. Even when confronted with evidence, particularly from the media, the Trump base refuses to believe the truth, instead choosing to buy into the lie because it makes them feel good.

And one can draw a straight line from the fawning Clinton coverage in the 1990s to the deeply suspicious manner with which George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were portrayed in the aughts to the media hyperventilation about Romney's “binders full of women” all the way to Trump’s post-fact world. Each and every instance where the media engages in bias helped to chip away at the trust they once held; all conservatives ever did was point out the truth. Now, we all have to live with the consequences to the bias the media rarely acknowledges, and the victim is the truth.