~<>IS THERE MEDIA BIAS OR WHAT?<>~
They're admiring the sights when, all of a sudden, the Pope's hat (zucchetto) blows off his head and out into the water. Secret service guys start to launch a boat, but Bush waves them off, saying "Wait, wait. I'll take care of this. Don't worry."
Bush then steps off the yacht onto the surface of the water and walks out to the Holy Father's little hat, bends over and picks it up, then walks back to the yacht and climbs aboard. He hands the hat to the Pope amid stunned silence. The next morning, the Washington Post carries a story, with front page photos, of the event. The banner headline is:
"Bush Can't Swim!"
Yes, yes...yet another conservative blogger's venemous diatribe, bashing the liberal media bias. So, what of it? You have the freedom to stop reading or the freedom to break lances with me; not by running me through in a physical joust, but by engaging me in dialogue, and leaving a comment.
The bit of satire I led in with, illustrates in a humorous way, a very sad reality: that the majority of mainstream journalists lean to the left. It irks many liberals to no end to hear conservatives claiming that there is a liberal bias in the media. It just baffles me, at times, when I feel like the bias is so transparent. And then my liberal friends will come back with, "but you have FOX News and talk radio!!!". I do see FOX as slightly right of center (not as far right as angry Leftists will have you believe, though)...but isn't it funny that FOX is usually the only network they mention as an example? (runner up would be talk radio, but more on that in a few paragraphs down....). If they are more savvy, they might include The Washington Times in there as well; in contrast, I can cite CNN, ABC, NBC, see BS...er, sorry...I mean, CBS, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the BBC, the CBC, NPR, PBS, Reuters and the AP, and all the countless other mainstream news outlets, major and minor. More bizarre are the extreme Leftists who buy into conspiracy theories, and see all the mainstream as having a conservative agenda, and as going easy on President Bush.
FOX News has been huge in its success, but its audience share is so ridiculously small in comparison to the number of viewers the Big Three reach every night.
Liberal and conservative worldview perceptions injected into a news story doesn't upset me. I don't see anyway around it. What does disturb me is the dishonesty of claiming nonpartisanship.
What I find extremely mystifying and more disturbing, is how we often can't even agree upon what the barebone facts are. Both sides seem to have selective hearing. When President Bush gives a speech...when Charles Duelfer and David Kay give their WMD findings, or when the 9-11 Commission concluded their research....what is quoted is like night and day. What is heard from a President Bush speech by Democrats and what is heard by Republicans...sometimes it's like they were listening to two different speeches being delivered!
What is also bizarre to me, is how liberals can't seem to distinguish between straight news reporting, and opinion journalism. They act like conservative talk radio hosts hide behind a badge of nonpartisanship. Absolutely baffling, when these radio political pundits are unapologetically partisan, and admitted idealogues. They are not reporting "just the facts" in a news story; but rather, giving their interpretation, perspective, and opinion on how those news items are perceived through the filter of their conservative-colored lens. What is devious, though, is when you have the top newspaper in the country, the New York Times, and similar mainstream rags, pass themselves off as nonpartisan; yet time and time again, their liberal slant seeps through...sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant to where the frontpage blurb begins to look like the op-ed section of the paper.
Liberal media bias in the mainstream is so pervasive, I don't understand how you can't feel suffocated by it. It's message isn't just in the news headlines and stories: it's also in our mainstream culture: from universities, to pop music, to Hollywood movies and television; they often have liberal messages...you have political correctness and other liberal-related issues, like multiculturalism, laced into children's programming (such as Sesame Street).
Its presence in our lives doesn't bother me half as much as it bothers me that the left-leaning in media is not recognized and acknowledged by liberals; even more, that those who profess to be "apolitical" or don't care for politics....who don't follow the news much and may only catch headline blurbs and news soundbytes....might be completely oblivious that the news they do get is colored with a journalist's own biased leanings. I suppose that's their own fault, and it's a matter of making sure that the conservative voice is heard out there, through the alternative media.
I do see a rise in the conservative voice as the success of FOX News has given rise to similar opinionists appearing on rival networks, such as Scarborough Country at MSNBC; of course, then there's the continuing conservative influence talk radio has on listeners; and then there's the new media, with right-of-center bloggers far more politically influential right now than left-of-center bloggers. Military bloggers also tend to lean rightward, and their opinions right now command a great deal of weight and power in our consciousness, and on our conscience.
Now that I've come across as just another conservative whiner, boo-hooing and poo-pooing over liberal media bias like it's some well-coordinated Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, I'll reiterate that I don't mind the freedom of having a free press....free to print news through a liberal lens worldview, and free to publish through a conservative one. Like a free-market society, allow it to succeed or fail, by standing on its own merits. It's funny how liberals have always portrayed themselves as the champion of free speech and diversity and tolerance...yet in the past few decades, it seems like conservative viewpoints have been shut out of many universities, journalism schools, and other outlets of influence for public exposure. It would just be nice if all news sources would be honest with themselves and to their viewer/readership and openly declare their political leanings. Many journalists who claim to be moderates or who deem themselves nonpartisan, are more fair and nuanced than fair and balanced. To them, FOX News seems so far to the right, and partisan, only because it stands out in such sharp contrast to the liberal press.
I do think that most of the straight news reporters do try to be honest and nonpartisan, but I also see it as an attempt to defy human nature. Bias can creep into one's writings in the most subtle ways....just think of how a simple word choice can make all the difference in the meaning and context of what is being reported: "killed"....."died"....."murdered"....."lost".... Each of those 4 words can essentially be true to the story, but color the facts with their own distinct flavor of meaning. A writer can subconsciously choose one word over another, revealing his political leanings, without intentionally meaning for it to happen.
I think most conservative messages, stand on their own merits; and so long as conservatives are not completely shut out of airing their opinions and ideology, the liberalism of old media will continue to decline and the rise of new media and conservative beliefs will gain momentum. I think part of the recent success of alternative media like talk radio is not because the conservative talk radio hosts do what they do so well; it's also because for 4 decades, liberals have been controlling the mainstream, coloring their coverage of news story with their ideological outlook.
I'm done. I might go back and edit in some links. There's plenty of research and studies, including those from liberal sources like the Pew Research Center, whose recent study last year concluded that a significant majority of journalists do lean left. In closing, I don't mean to toss around the word "liberal" like it's a dirty word. I label rags like The New York Times as left-of-center, overall, but don't mean to suggest that their reporters are somehow incompetent, and engaging in yellow journalism and outright fabrications. It's a matter of skewing the perception, which results in a distorted view of the events happening in the world, and their level of import and significance, in the overall grand scheme of things.