View Full Version : The Liberal "Media"??
Something JEHOVAH/AUSSIEABORIGINAL/HOWARDSTERN/WHOEVER has posted on another thread reminded me of a platitude I so often hear from the political right in the U.S.: the media is biased, liberal, communist, socialist, etc.
Well, being myself a pretty well-rounded liberal in most respects I can think of, I am puzzled. Personally, I don't notice a bias toward either the left or the right -- but then again I haven't exactly been paying much attention to it, and my perceptions could be biased. Perhaps some of the journalism-minded or politically-conservative people could enlighten me as to how the "media" is "liberal", and what exactly they mean by "the media" or "liberal"?
Thanks in advance.
Hi Boris. Sorry, I can't help you with a conservative viewpoint. I seem to be a liberal in most areas myself. Although, nowadays, I am tending toward the term "progressive", since the word "liberal" seems to have become a swear word to so many people. With regard to the "liberal bias"; the idea has been around for a number of years now. I don't really remember when it started; probably after a democratic victory, when the republicans were grasping at straws. I think the idea is a myth. There was a study done several years ago in an attempt to determine if there was any truth to the idea. Their conclusion was, if anything, it was the other way. When it came to TV and radio, there were far more conservative commentators then there were liberals. Think of those political commentators of today that have a national reputation. The only ones I know of are conservative: Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey, Michel Reagen.There may be some liberal ones, but I certainly haven't heard of them. And information that is publically available indicates that almost all the news media, whether print or broadcast, are owned or controlled by wealthy individuals or familys, or large corporations or conglomerates, which are owned or controlled by wealthy individuals or familys. While it is possible for a wealthy individual to be liberal, the evidence I have seen seems to indicate that the majority of them are not. When the national news media report something negative about a conservative politician, it is easier for the conservatives to shout, "Liberal bias, liberal bias." than it is for them to face reallity. And while many of the national news broadcasters do seem to be liberal on the personal level, they are kept where they are because the viewers like them, and they make money for the owners. At least this is how it appears to me; that it is just a myth.
I'm amid a continual re-write. This was far too long to make any sense in its first two incarnations. Thus, I'm sure I'm leaving something out. Whoops.
It's the First Amendment against Money. That's about as simply as I can put it. The liberal media is only liberal because people don't know where to work. Someone at my company routes some twenty magazines a week across my desk that I intentionally try not to read because I don't want to see reality from that basis. Every article in Business Insurance Journal or National Underwriter focuses so greatly on the cost of anything--as its market indicates--that it displays the inherently conservative idea of respecting money over people. When writing about OSHA regulation, it doesn't talk about on-the-job injuries and the costs of underwriting that, but the cost of companies meeting the standards; and it's always too expensive.
Conservatism rears its head in mainstream journalism, as well. One of the Chicago newspapers fired one of its writers, who eventually sued them and then told her story on NPR in '97. Essentially the writer claimed to have assembled evidence that use of rBGH (bovine growth hormone) in dairy cattle caused a number of symptoms, including a tripling of infection rate in which open sores discharge into the milk. The articles she wrote claimed that cattle raised without the hormones did not suffer these infections at nearly this rate. Upon learning of these articles, the dairy boards in Illinois and Wisconsin threatened to boycott advertising in the newspapers for a ridiculous period of years, and the newspaper killed the article. The writer took the article and published it elsewhere, which was not a breach of her contract with her employer. Nonetheless, she was fired for behaving publicly in a manner detrimental to the newspaper. Check Nixon's election in '72, and why your paperboy makes so little money. As I recall, Nixon pushed child-labor and wage exceptions for newspaper delivery boys in ongoing labor legislation after receiving favorable editorials during election season from certain newspapers who contributed to a lobbying firm with executive access.
But I think that conservatives who are upset about the "liberal" media are actually just envious. After all, the media only seems liberal because, according to conservative principle, the people are buying the better product in larger quantities, which means the people like the "liberal" media more. This is no surprise, though, since we know that the culture has been reduced by the conservative "create-a-market" philosophy to an entertainment-dependent nation. After all, liberals are more fun. We have better drugs, and I'm only jesting partway on that point.
But we're speaking of conservatism here. In the US that means the anti-communists who object to institutional control of certain personal issues, such as education, finance, and security; yet that same conservatism has reincarnated those institutions--my company will send me to school if they approve of my classes, will provide my health if I choose a boilerplate package, and manage my retirement according to their best judgement. Sounds communist, except it's now the accountants and the actuaries I'm relying on instead of the administrators and legislators. I say it only reinforces the trend of envy. Consider the Microsoft way of looking at it: They have a better product than we do.
* Can we reproduce it? No ...
* Can we buy it? No ...
* Can we afford to ignore it? No ...
* Can we afford to steer the whole market "around" this technology and lock them out long enough to make the technology a non-issue? Looks like we'll have to ....
In Seattle, we had a tragic death at our Mardi Gras which has resulted in the day becoming illegal at the stake of something along the lines of $150,000. However, I recently (December) popped on down to New Orleans to visit a friend who had just moved there; her sister had mailed her a birthday card and a couple of tourism books. One of these books, at the head of its section on the French Quarter, included the stringent warning that, in Louisiana, cars have the right of way, and pedestrians must yield to them. Furthermore, I can testify here that people do not just pull away from intersections in New Orleans, they gun through them. The tourist guide noted that hundreds of pedestrians a year are killed, stumbling out of the French Quarter, and getting mowed down by equally drunk people racing through the streets without headlights. (It seems the only bad traffic offenses are running down children, hitting the trolley, or hitting a police car.) The guide also noted that newspapers even in New Orleans generally don't report these deaths. It's bad for tourism. Something about conservative media?
Re: WTO, Seattle, 11/99: Does it make our media "liberal" because one of our local newspapers pointed out that the police department's plans for dealing with protests during the conference violated several levels of law, including the US Constitution? Yet the "liberal" media, condemning the violence, continually relied on the largest damage number it could find, the inflated "lost business estimate", in order to strengthen the outrage directed at the protesters and cover for our lying conservative mayor.
I think that if we polled everyone we considered "media" in this country, we would find that the more visible they are, the more liberal they tend to be. However, I also think that we would find a pretty fair demographic balance. After all, plenty of conservatives get paid to write about what's wrong with blowjobs and neckties, cigars, women lawyers, and Arkansas. It's not like the market isn't there. The consumers just don't care.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment to the United States Constitution)
Yeah, but the thing is that somebody has to pay for it. (Tiassa's father, ca. 1984)
And that, I submit to you, is what's wrong with the media in general. I mean, look at what counts as "news" these days, and what ratings are worth. It seems to me that the conservative need to make everything operate according to a certain economic principle is what drags down the journalistic media. The truth is too expensive, or else it doesn't interest enough of the market.
If we step away from this economic principle, and oblige ourselves to the idea that the news is good for us even when it's bad, and demand a little bit of boring integrity out of our information providers, they might try meeting the market that way, too. Can you see, instead of a time-slot war, an "integrity" war among news outlets? That would be enough to make me cry with hope for the future.
But I'm an American. I don't always get accurate news, but it's the news I deserve. Anyone seen the "Naked News" yet? (I'm unsure about posting the address to a website in which news readers get naked. Ethical advice here? Anyone, anyone?) But yes, I get the news I deserve.