Curious list of top 25 media liberals

How are Fred Hiatt, Andrew Sullivan and Maureen Dowd on a list with our own Glenn Greenwald?

By Thomas Schaller

Published January 23, 2009 5:37PM (EST) published a list and photo essay of its "25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media."

Proving that one conservative publication's "liberal" is another person's or movement's mainstream, highly triangulated or war-cheerleading centrist, there are some strange entries. But first, the list:

  1. Paul Krugman
  2. Arianna Huffington
  3. Fred Hiatt
  4. Thomas Friedman
  5. Jon Stewart
  6. Oprah Winfrey
  7. Rachel Maddow
  8. Josh Marshall
  9. David Shipley
  10. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga
  11. Fareed Zakaria
  12. Chris Matthews
  13. Bill Moyers
  14. Christopher Hitchens
  15. Maureen Dowd
  16. Matt Yglesias
  17. Hendrick Hertzberg
  18. Glenn Greenwald
  19. Andrew Sullivan
  20. Gerald Seib
  21. Jim Fallows
  22. Ezra Klein
  23. Kevin Drum
  24. Kurt Andersen
  25. Michael Pollan

I think a key point of distinction is whether somebody is a liberal who happens to be in the media or somebody who is an actual, operational media liberal. Until this year, Oprah fastidiously kept out of national electoral politics. So, she was a liberal, but a liberal essentially on the sidelines. She's ranked too high, in my opinion. (My mom simply adores her and if Oprah actually had such a huge impact, then how come Mom voted for John McCain?) David Shipley, a former Bill Clinton White House speechwriter, is no doubt  a liberal, but is bound to publish opinions on the New York Times Op-Ed page he edits from a range of perspectives.

And then there are those that, from the POV of Forbes, look liberal, but less so to me: Matthews, who has, however, grown on me during the past year by rising to the leftward shift under way at MSNBC; Sullivan, who has earned some recent redemption in his Bush critiques, but who has offended liberals way too often; and "Friedman unit" Friedman and Hitchens, whose Iraq war defenses and apologia simply disqualify them, IMHO.

I'm sure Salon's readers have a lot to say about who should be removed, added, moved up or moved down in the rankings. Fire away.

Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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