Most political journalists we know are centrists — instinctually skeptical of ideological zealotry — but with at least a mild liberal tilt to their thinking, particularly on social issues.
Emphasis mine, because I find this sort of statement to be silly in its assumption that there’s something noteworthy about that. It’s like saying, “Most journalists put their pants on one leg at a time.”
Look, most people are socially liberal. Even most people who consider themselves to be social conservatives live like liberals, but they just live in areas where hypocrisy is a better coping skill than living your values. 95% of people have premarital sex. 98% of women use contraception at some point in time. Divorce rates are high. Most women work. Somewhere between a third and a half of all women will have an abortion by the age of 45.
The question in America is not, “Are you a social conservative or a social liberal?” For the vast majority of people, the question is, “Do you live the values you claim, or are you a giant hypocrite?” Increasingly, the answer to the question depends on where you live—in conservative, rural parts of the country, there’s a lot more pressure on people to claim allegiance to values that their behavior betrays. That’s why anti-choicers hound abortion clinics out of town—it’s not so much that it gets rid of abortion and somehow increases their birth rate, but it just means that women who get abortions have to do it in other towns, and preserve the illusion that the town has a set of values it obviously doesn’t.
The journalists they’re talking about cluster in urban areas, and so don’t have any pressure to say one thing and do another. That’s a “social liberal”, apparently. Or, as I prefer to put it, someone who lives their stated values.