Archive for April 27th, 2004

“Liberal media” and it’s detractors

Apr 27, 2004 in Current Events

From Fark: A columnist for the “far-left” Toronto Globe and Mail suggested, in jest, that Fox News be brought to Canada, just for laughs. This brought the wrath of Bill O’Reilly and his fans, who inundated this columnist with loads of profanity-laden junk mail:

“The people who support Fox News must be the most uncivil and foul-mouthed creatures on the planet. This is an informed opinion. They’d give English soccer hooligans a run for their money.

I lost count of the number of times I was called “an a**hole.” It was at least 43 times, anyway. I was called “a pussy,” “a wussy,” “a pr**k,” “a jerk,” “a hack” and “a creep.” A man in Cleveland not only called me “an a**hole” but also wished me a “f***ed-up day.” A lady — and I use the term advisedly — in Colorado wrote to say that all Canadians are “a**holes” and then ordered me not to visit her state. I was also called a Canadian numerous times, as if that were an automatic and withering insult.”

Which got me to thinking: Whenever I hear a conservative complain about the “liberal media bias” that is so rampant in many mainstream news sources (CNN, NPR, New York Times, and anything else that is not Fox News, Rush Limbaugh or the Washington Times), I can’t help but notice their obvious preference towards news sources with a blatant conservative bias.

These conservatives often defend their preferred news source as being “fair and balanced,” and reporting all sides of an issue, even when the news source itself has admitted (albeit indirectly) to their bias. Everything that is not blatantly conservative is automatically painted as “liberal,” and thus, biased and wrong.

It seems to me that those who complain the loudest about “liberal media bias” do so simply because those “liberal media” outlets don’t go out of their way to reinforce the conservative viewer’s opinions. Case in point: our college newspaper’s resident conservative columnist.

This Bill O’Reilly wannabe uses his latest opinion column on the Alaska oil drilling controversy to slam John Kerry and “liberal senators.” It’s not that I disagree about whether drilling for oil in Alaska is right or wrong; in fact, he makes some good points in support of Alaskan oil drilling. But the point here folks is not oil drilling, it’s attacking the “liberals.” Yes, those dirty, nasty, intolerant liberals. Our own Ann Coulter wannabe also decries the so-called “liberal media,” and cribs his sources from noted conservative news outlets.

Prominent conservative columnists like William F. Buckley and George Will can write an entire column without using the word “liberal” (except where it is relevant), and without deliberately slamming Democrats (again, except where there is relevant criticism to be made), and for that reason I can respect their opinions. Columnists like Ann Coulter on the other hand, who is on a single-minded mission to destroy everything even remotely “liberal,” are much harder to take seriously.

The big question: Is there a liberal media bias? Possibly. The media and entertainment fields do tend to attract a large number of liberal-minded people, just as business tends to attract conservatives. But I have a hard time believing that every non-conservative news source deliberately slants their news to the left. Sure, some do; just as there are blatant right-wing news sources, there are blatant left-wing ones as well. But news sources that are identifiably liberal or conservative are obviously so; they don’t try too hard to hide it.

If the facts are relevant, the news source doesn’t display an obvious political bias, and the item is not presented as opinion, then it is news, period. News shouldn’t present a political bias, it should only report facts. There’s a reason why the New York Times is such a respected publication; because it reports newsworthy facts in a thorough and professional manner. They don’t need to resort to political bias to gain readers, and nobody reads the Times to get their daily fix of liberal news. There are other outlets for that.

I read an interesting article a while back (that I was sadly unable to dig up) from a former college conservative newspaper editor. She noted that liberals are more likely to graduate and work their way up through news organizations or other public institutions. Conservatives, on the other hand, are more likely to graduate into a lucrative career in business, corporate law, or conservative think tanks. Even those who stick with journalism gravitate towards the National Review and their ilk. Despite the fact that there has been a concerted effort by conservatives to establish conservative college newspapers, very few staff members from those papers go on into the media.

Yes, I do read news sources that are identifiably liberal. But hard facts and well-thought out opinions are just that, regardless of the particular news source. I won’t sneeze at a conservative columnist that makes a good point. But neither do I look for a political bias in a news story where none obviously exists. Those who deliberately seek out “liberal bias” in mainstream media are only looking for an excuse to avoid considering facts and viewpoints that they disagree with.