I have had an interesting last few of days in the blogosphere, mainly due to a couple of stories I posted that generated some comments – thank you for that. Sadly, it seems like only my stories involving politics seem to generate a bunch of interest. Which is too bad, since I think it is kind of cool that Sam Snead never won a U.S. Open.
Anyway, I have been debating about a phrase that has been tossed around for years – “Liberal Media Bias.” It is used by those mainly on the right as a reason to cry foul for never getting a fair shake from the broadcast media. The point has been honed to a sharp point by some, namely Sarah Palin, as a badge of honor; as a way of painting any Conservative as an underdog in any contest – not only do they have to defeat their opponent, but they have to do it with a media machine that is decidedly tilted against their cause. They even take it a step further, implying that this ‘Liberal Media bias’ has been so pervasive (and apparently so subtle) that all us unwashed masses do not even recognize it. Ergo, they are here to free us from this brainwashing.
I am a Liberal, so much of what I am about to write will be dismissed by many as myopic, since those on the other side of the aisle will claim that I wouldn’t criticize what I agree with, or would not even be able to recognize the bias. To them, I am one of the brainwashed. Fine, if that’s your take then stop reading.
If you’re still here, ponder this. Give the following a bit of cogitation:
A given media source may have a bias, but media, on the whole, does not.
Still here? Good. Time for elaboration: For every Fox News there’s an MSNBC. For every Los Angeles Times there’s a Wall Street Journal. For every Rush Limbaugh there’s a, uhhh…
Okay I’m stumped on that one. There is no bellicosity on the macro level on the left that compares with His Rushness. Based on that fact alone, one could conclude that Rush’s unchecked pomposity would singlehandedly tilt the scale of bias towards the Conservative side. But I am not going to fight fire with fire – I am not going to purport that there is a Conservative Media Bias as a retort to the claims of Liberal Media Bias. Instead, I am going to claim that there is bias everywhere, that, when added up, essentially balances the scale.
If you can’t get with that assertion, then I will offer that you only see what you want to see – if you’re Liberal you scream about Hannity while ignoring Maddow. If you’re Conservative you scream about the San Francisco Chronicle while ignoring the Christian Science Monitor. If that fact escapes you, it is you that is myopic. Media, collectively and completely, has no bias – the myriad of television, cable, newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, added up, equals no bias. Because it is so voluminous and encompassing that there would be no way to assure a commonality along any ideological line.
It is not media bias. It is media by us.
Look, I watch MSNBC. I personally think Rachel Maddow does a very good job at giving her opinion. Re-read that last sentence. I said giving her opinion. I am intelligent enough to recognize an opinion when I hear it, whether it is one I agree with or not. Opinions, by definition, are biased – they are based on the person who is stating the opinion’s paradigm. So, those on the right that claim there’s a media bias and further that it is so subtle that most of us do not see it, you are insulting us. Stop it.
Therefore, do not tell me that, if I watch the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams that Brian is feeding me the news through some left-leaning prism. Don’t claim that Scott Pelley is a moll of the left when he’s doing the same job on CBS. Because it is disingenuous at the least, and insulting at the most. There is news and then there is opinion. I know the difference. Do you?
A blogger took me to task for this claim of no bias on the macro level. His point was that his father was in the broadcast business for 25 years and he experienced this purported liberal media bias, therefore it exists. My reply to that is simple – my dad was a plumber for 40 years but I can’t fix a toilet. As well, what occurred in our parent’s day is not relevant – cable and the internet has made any comparisons to 1968 moot. So don’t tell me that you heard from someone who heard from someone that they were told that someone said there’s a bias. Prove it.
Or, in keeping with the American Way, just change the channel to something you agree with.