Yet another Republican operative is saying that after this election, we really, really need to do something about this liberal bias in the media. Reading a guy who was the Press Secretary for Bob Dole complain about liberal media bias is akin to listening to pet-abuser argue for more laxity in animal cruelty laws--one suspects he is not coming from a position of honesty and forthrightness.
And the piece doesn't disappoint. Douglas MacKinnon quotes John Harris, Jim Vandehei, and Howard Kurtz among others, all of whom have used specious reasoning in the past in an attempt to prove the myth of the liberal media is ruining this nation. MacKinnon never points to the tons of studies that point out that political media bias is largely a myth, and never comes close to discussing the real problem, which is that objectivity is an impossible dream, and one we might want to abandon completely.
But it's this paragraph that really gave me a chuckle.
Indeed, I — as well as two newspaper editors I know — would argue that one reason newspapers are seeing a decline in circulation is because they ignore or marginalize right-of-center or conservative readers.There are two problems with his argument. One is that it fails to take into consideration new media, and the fact that more and more people are getting their news online--via newspaper's websites, I might add--than they are through dead tree copies. But the big thing it ignores is that there are some really good examples of newspapers which cater to right-of-center and conservative readers and which lose millions of dollars every year. I'm talking, of course, about Sun-Myung Moon's Washington Times and Rupert Murdoch's New York Post. If conservatives are feeling shut out by the NY Times or the Washington Post or any of the other major papers, they have options, but they're apparently not interested enough to make those papers profitable.
The news media hasn't tilted too far to the left--in fact, I'd argue that it's not even left-leaning by any reasonable definition of "left." It's corporate, and that's going to result in a pro-business bias, if anything, which is why you'll see precious little coverage of anything that's really left-leaning. Third parties can't get coverage unless they're tied to a celebrity candidate. Articles about universal health care are always focused on getting people insurance as opposed to building a single-payer system. And on television, with the exception of programs like Democracy Now!, about the leftiest person who gets on any show is Dennis Kucinich, and he only gets airtime every four years while he's running for President.
I'd like to see more examples of media companies throwing their biases out front for all to see, because that's more honest. The real lie in all of this is that there's an objective, truthful way to look at news stories, when the reality is that our biases cloud our perceptions all the time. We need to acknowledge that and work with it.