There has been a lot of discussion recently about media bias. Liberals point to the fact that the media has become consolidated among a relatively few big corporations and therefore, has a bias to the right. Conservatives point to the fact that most people in the media, based on surveys, are registered democrats and vote consistently for the democrat candidate, thereby displaying a bias to the left.
In fact, neither of these claims proves media bias. It is ludicrous to say that because the media is consolidated among a few corporations that it is, therefore, biased to the right. Historically, corporations have donated as much to democrat candidates as to republican ones. There are as many democrats who run big corporations as there are republicans.
For example, according to OpenSecrets.org, these corporations all contribute significantly more to democrats than republicans; Comcast, General Electric, Boeing, Verizon, Capital Group Companies, Exelon Corp. In fact, most corporations hedge their bets and contribute just about the same amount to democrats as they do to republicans. For the ones that actually take a stand and make a point of going to one party over the other, most actually contribute more to democrats than to republicans! The idea that corporations are interchangeable with republicans is a myth.
Similarly, to say that because most people in the media vote for democrats does not prove bias either. It is possible to vote predominantly for democrats (or republicans) and still be an objective reporter (possible but in practice, not likely). The only way to prove media bias is to look at what the media actually does – What does it cover? How much time does it devote to certain stories? How does it frame those stories?
It is clear that the Main Stream Media (MSM), which consists of ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, The New York Times and the overwhelming majority of print and broadcast media, including most of the entertainment industry in Hollywood as well as news magazines such as Time and Newsweek, devotes time to some stories and neglects others. The decision to neglect certain stories has created a void for those stories. An alternative media has sprung up out of necessity to fill that void. The alternative media consists mostly of Fox Cable News and talk radio. The internet has been successfully used by both the MSM and the alternative media.
Looking at actual stories, it is clear that the Jeremiah Wright controversy was not going to be looked into with any investigative zeal by the MSM. What the MSM failed to realize is that a large number of people cared about this story. People were enraged at the hatred this reverend demonstrated towards the United States and they questioned why a presidential candidate would sit in a church for over 20 years and listen to rants against the very country that the candidate wanted to be the president of!
Recent quotes pulled out of “Journolist” which is a listserve (think of it as a long email chain) show that journalists were actively seeking to bury the Reverend Wright story. These were not just people writing on a blog. They were journalists with the power to effect the editorial decisions of major newspapers, networks and magazines.
For example, Michael Tomasky, who writes for the Guardian, said to other members of “Journolist”: “Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy (ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos had the nerve to bring up the Wright issue) in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the (mainstream media) kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”
Who is Michael Tomasky to decide how to “serve the people”? A reporter’s job is to ask questions and to get at the truth. When a story is “uncomfortable” to your belief system, is it appropriate to bury the story and smear those who want to get to the bottom of it? Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent tried to create a climate of fear so that no one would dare talk about the Wright story. He said on “Journolist”, “Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.” In fact, this very scandal is now a story in and of itself but don’t hold your breath waiting for the MSM to cover it. If Fox news, however, threatened to arbitrarily smear people for talking about certain stories, the MSM would be on it and there would probably be a congressional investigation!
For many people, a “smoking gun” email chain wasn’t necessary to prove media bias in the MSM. People have observed this through the years such as in 1994 when Peter Jennings described the republican takeover of the house as a “temper tantrum”. Dan Rather was willing to put doctored documents on the air in an effort to put George Bush in a bad light. The funny thing about “Rathergate” was that it wasn’t much of a story, even if were true! It just goes to show what lengths reporters will go to in order to put someone they don’t like (conservatives) in a bad light. When Newt Gingrich received a bonus for a book he was writing while he was an active member of congress, the MSM criticized him endlessly for it but when Senator Clinton got an even bigger bonus the only thing heard was crickets. The examples are endless.
More recently the MSM has ignored horrific details in Obama’s healthcare bill and “stimulus” plan. They’ve misrepresented the situation of the Shirley Sherrod firing and slandered Andrew Breitbart for daring to post a video of the speech. Just for the record, days before Breitbart posted that video; the NAACP said that the Tea Party had racists in their group. This statement was given with no proof whatsoever but the MSM reported it dutifully.
Whatever context the Sherrod video was in, it showed that NAACP members were laughing when Sherrod spoke about “sending a white person to one of his own”. That is an outrageous statement and the reaction by members of the audience to the speech was telling. Yet no one in the MSM brought up that angle of the story. Now the MSM is talking about Sherrod as if she is a hero and Breitbart as if he is Satan. But Breitbart did a service to the truth showing that those who condemn others of racism should clean their own house first.
The alternative media has risen because of simple supply and demand. People on the left don’t seem to understand supply and demand when it comes to basic economics so it’s not surprising that they don’t quite catch the connection when it comes to the media. Bill Press, who wrote a book about bringing back some form of the “Fairness doctrine” to talk radio, said on an interview recently that his book was only concerned about talk radio and not about biases on television or newsprint. Yet one cannot talk about the success of conservative talk radio in a vacuum.
Conservative talk radio has succeeded because there is a ravenous hunger for information. People are tired of seeing the MSM misrepresent who they are and what they believe in. They are tired of the condescension shown by the MSM to anything religious or patriotic. They are tired of having their views and beliefs belittled. Not only at news networks but in the movies, conservative characters are presented as evil. It may be one unnecessary line or part of the main theme of the movie but it is there more often than not. It may be at a concert where all you want is to hear the music but have to listen to the singer denigrating the things you hold dear to your heart.
People can say whatever they want. Free speech is a good thing but choice of where to get information is also a good thing. People have turned away from the MSM and flocked to other sources because their priorities of what is important are not the same as those held by people in the MSM. People in the MSM don’t seem to care. Those who don’t share their vision of the world and what is important are just mere troglodytes. The MSM will never change to satisfy the needs of their audience for information because that kind of information is “beneath” them. In the minds of people in the MSM, they have a “higher” calling which only they get to define and only they get to judge.