"Strategery" 2: On media bias
As I've noted here before, I'm pretty much a Cold War Democrat, for the most part: unapologetically pro-military, pro-America, pro-law enforcement, pro-clandestine services, pro-business, and
pro-Constitution; recognizing that while humans remain humans, it's just loopy to expect them (including the military, US government, law enforcement, clandestine services, and most especially businesses) to behave in socially helpful ways without at least a bit of regulation looking over their shoulders. Hell, other than my libertarian (though law-abiding) leanings when it comes to personal conduct, I'm pretty much a conservative...particularly if you use the Bill of Rights as your standard for the values you hoped to "conserve."
Which makes me, alas, a flaming liberal -- if not frothing radical -- in our current landscape of political terminology: where "conservative" is apparently now supposed to mean "devoted to destroying everything America stands for," and "liberal" to mean "one who loves the Constitution of the United States, and wishes to defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic"...the oath of office our leaders themselves are sworn to uphold.
Time is limited. Let's try it this way.
You have doubtless heard -- you may even believe -- that the traditional media have a "liberal bias." You have certainly heard me suggest something rather different: that the traditional media have been falling over themselves for thirty years now to attack Democrats and defend Republicans, irrespective of the actual policies of individuals in each party. A thoughtful discussion of this issue, which ought to be read by, well, everybody, IMO, appears in this Peter Daou column on salon:http://daoureport.salon.com/synopsis.aspx?synopsisId=59f92c44-e7ec-48c4-91c7-b51768df79a3
(Thanks to dailykos.com for the original link. And don't miss the further links from the salon page.)
The role of the traditional media is to set the allowable boundaries of debate in this country: to frame both what the issues are, and what range of opinion is acceptable on those issues. In the late 1960s and 1970s that range was a lot further to the "left" than it is today (though not so much as you might think), and it's now so far "right" that it squeaks, but it's always
been about setting those limits. The only reason I'm speaking up at all about this -- even in so limited a forum as this little page -- is my belief that current policies are literally destroying American power, and endangering pretty much everything I care about; believe it or not, left to my own devices I'm about as apolitical an animule as you can imagine.
So if "the media" today have an inherent Republican bias -- and one so effective that (as Daou's article suggests) it infects even Democrats themselves (as witness, say, Jon Stewart, especially lately, but also many Dem officeholders!) -- why does it seem so "obvious" to so many people that the "media bias" is "liberal"? There are several major answers, but (time being short) I think these are the main ones:
+ Many reporters are personally libertarian on social issues: abortion, sexual freedom, religious diversity and such. If your "conservative" agenda is to criminalize those things, then, yeah, the media has a "liberal bias," at least in hiring. Furthermore, most in the national media have college educations and live in big cities, which may make them seem like hoity-toity snootbags to some who don't fit those descriptions.* None of this, however, has anything to do with the vast majority of what used to be political concerns: labor, economy, health care, environment, war & peace, the rule of law, you name it...on which reporters are often less "liberal," and their editors most often -- and publishers nearly always -- very "conservative" indeed.
+ A lot depends on how you frame the issues, which is how Fox "News" gets away with calling itself "Fair & Balanced." Fox uses a handful of genuinely controversial hot-button issues (most notably those involving race, immigration, and taxes, though increasingly fundie** religious issues, too) as a sort of camouflage to conceal its actual agenda: that being to serve as a non-stop mouthpiece for the craziest wing of the current GOP. (And what did you expect, with Rupert Murdoch owning the thing, and GOP strategist Roger Ailes running it? I mean, if PETA bought the Food Channel, programming would change some. Duh.) If your agenda is to support a given side, no matter what, then every "failure" of other media outlets to include your propaganda can look like "bias." Then too, I've already discussed here how the very notion of "balance" ("equal weight accorded to both sides") can be inherently unfair: if truth and lies are accorded equal weight, then any attempt to expose a falsehood is "unbalanced," an evidence of "bias." Call me old-fashioned, but while I strongly believe in hearing every side of an argument, I believe equally strongly that lies ought to be exposed. As the saying goes, everyone's entitled to his own opinion...but not his own facts.
These, too, are conservative values, btw. One of the best chat shows on television today is PBS's right-leaning "McLaughlin Group," which nevertheless largely tries to present an intelligent discussion of issues, rather than just competing versions of spin. (Another is PBS's "Now" with David Brancaccio, the leftier-leaning version of the same basic notion.)
Anyway, maybe more later, maybe not. Comments, as always, are more than welcome and will, also as always, be treated with sincere respect. :D
93 93/93 -- AJ
* There's a system-supportive reason, btw, that the national media hire so many relatively educated, citified-seeming, and "liberal" reporters: their target audience being primarily elite opinion, they tend to hire the sorts of folks elites will be likely to listen to.
** I apologize if that term offends anyone. If it does, they probably won't want to read my long-delayed Christmas post, "Why do American Christians hate Jesus?"