Monday, October 18, 2004

Liberal media bias spotted by onlooker--columnist alleges "swamp gas"

I should be studying. Really. I’ve got hundreds of pages to read and tests to study for.

But I can’t. Must… fisk… column.

In today’s Collegian, “Myth of liberal media bias misleading.” Oh goody goody, you say that the sky isn't blue, huh?

Okay, folks. We’ve got to the point where arguing about media bias is an argument of “how liberal” and “why” not whether or not it exists.

This column starts off with the whole Sinclair anti-Kerry documentary “Stolen Honor” business, followed by a snarky “There’s that liberal media at it again!” And then, just in case you didn’t recognize the sarcasm, “Oh wait, I forgot. The “liberal media bias” is nothing more than a paranoid hallucination purported by Republicans with their panties in a bundle.” BAM! Love that piercing, stiletto wit.

And then, of course, there's the obligatory Fox News mention. Showing that these two stations have a conservative bent is obvious. But why is it obvious? Because they stand in such sharp contrast to the rest of the media. The “Stolen Honor” documentary is nothing compared to, most notably, CBS’s hit job based on fake memos.

But no, CBS can’t be biased, because they once decided against airing an overtly political ad during the Super Bowl. And the same people that decide what ads go on during the Super Bowl are also the same people that decide the day to day news coverage. Riiight.

And ABC can’t be biased:

since the puppeteer pulling ABC’s strings is Disney, and they recently refused to distribute “Fahrenheit 9/11” because it “wasn’t in the interest of the company.”
That’s right, Disney controls ABC’s news coverage. Mickey is there in the newsroom spiking stories about Bushalliburton to protect the American Military-Industrioperial combine.

The common ploy utilized to allege conservative bias is also pulled out of the bag: the presence of conservative pundits. The thing is though, even if every pundit on the news was an ultra-rightwing warlock, this would prove NOTHING in the way of NEWS bias. These commentators are “biased” if by biased you mean admitting to a certain placement on the political spectrum, but they put these biases out on the table and provide opinion on the news of the day. They analyze through the context of their worldview. That’s there job, to provide opinion.

But none of previous really stoked me to write like the following asinine observation:

Question: Who keeps complaining about the supposed liberal media?

Answer: The media.

For some reason, conservatives refuse to wrap their minds around the painfully obvious point that if there truly was a leftist slant, you’d never hear about it in the media. It would be contradictory to their evil, liberal master plan.
This doesn’t even bear comment, really. But since it should be “painfully obvious,” and I’m feeling rather unhurt, maybe I should explain my reasoning. First, the media complains about liberal bias? Sure, certain segments of the media, i.e. the pundits out their paid for their opinions allege bias. But how many news stories do you see from ABC, CBS, NBC, or the like about liberal bias? This is a continuation of the faulty reasoning used earlier: a couple of stations are conservative, so there is no liberal bias. This also ignores where the media liberal accusations have most flourished: on the internet, in books and from conservative radio pundits.

And it’s a complete misrepresentation of the argument alleging liberal bias to say that there is an “evil, liberal master plan.” On the contrary, if you read the seminal works on media bias, such as Bernard Goldberg’s “Bias” and “Arrogance” it is clear that those that believe there is a liberal media bias do not think that it is conscious. It’s a result of groupthink, the fact that reporters are overwhelmingly liberal (this pew poll finds that 34% of reporters call themselves liberals and 7% call themselves conservative—and we all know that, since liberal, unlike conservative, is considered an epithet, the numbers of liberals that call themselves moderate is probably much higher), as well as the fact that most reporters come from the same Metropolitan background.

To say that conservatives allege some master conspiracy is a complete distortion and crude caricature of their real view. If you want to look at insane conspiracy-mongering, look no further than Hillary and her VRWC remark.

All in all, the column followed the usual procedure when arguing against conservative bias: selective anecdotes, the belief that conservatives at the top of the company control day-to-day news coverage, and the vague gesturing toward conservative commentators as if this proved something. I mean, really, read this column, and then read this “there’s no liberal media bias” column from last year. Same old talking points, same old story.

Arguing that there’s a liberal media bias is like arguing with a sophist that attempts to prove that the sky isn’t blue through some semantic and obfuscatory word game. You will never convince me out of what I can see with my own two eyes.

And if you want some research, hey, here you go. The NY Times more liberal than Fox is conservative? You better believe it.

The last point that the column makes is that the Collegian is not “a liberal rag.” Now, I don’t know if it is or if it isn’t. News reporting changes from semester to semester as the editors are all replaced. But just citing two opinion columnists (myself and the conservative James Hurla—conservative? Go back and read his columns and then tell me this again) and a story from April 2003 doesn’t go very far toward proving or disproving anything.

The column ends with this little preemptive zinger at those that might disagree:

If it were, conservative conglomerates wouldn’t own every TV station under the sun. Conservatives wouldn’t completely dominate radio.And this paper wouldn’t print the anti-me Fourum calls that are sure to follow by people who, predictably, refused to listen to any of the facts presented here.
What is he insinuating, that if the paper was liberal, it would be against free speech, or would only print views it agreed with? That’s not a very becoming appraisal of modern liberalism, although I can’t say as that I disagree wholly. And is he saying that if you listen to the “facts” presented here, you couldn’t possibly believe that a liberal media bias exists?

Well, I think it’s clear why Bernard Goldberg’s second book was entitled “Arrogance.”


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