Media Bias Or, How Do We Stay Relevant?Oct 29, 2012
My first political campaign was 1968. I helped my mom put up Nixon signs on the campus of Cornell University in my hometown of Ithaca, NY. I was 4 years old. I still remember the not so happy anti-war demonstrators watching closely. I suspect the signs didn’t stay up long, and I’ve been picking political fights ever since (thanks mom). As I lived through those years I can vividly remember my dad complaining about the media. The nation was in the throes of Vietnam, and later Watergate, and you can guess on whose side mom and dad stood. For the first half of my life I actually believed what Nixon said, not because of what I heard on the news, but because of mom and dad.
Needless to say, accusations of media bias have been around since, well, at least the printing press. Sometimes, the “bias” is simply a viewpoint that doesn’t fit our own worldview. We reject it out of hand and claim bias when the person we’re listening to is simply offering an opinion different from our own. But there’s a significant difference between someone who is supposed to be “reporting” and someone who is supposed to be “editorializing.” When those lines cross, you have bias (are you listening Mr. Shapiro?).
So what’s different about this election season? Why do the screams of media bias from conservative circles seem louder than ever before? Has anything really changed?
One reason is that the bias we see is no longer subtle. In the past, most journalists were pretty good at hiding their respective opinions behind somewhat accurate reports that had just enough truth to convince the reader or viewer that what they were hearing was truthful. Those days are over.
From MSNBC to FOX News to the New York Times, there’s nothing subtle about today’s media bias – it’s in your face orthodoxy. Editorialists can be ignored (seriously, where did intellectually stimulating editorial writers go?). Pundits are ignored. But when reporters are choosing between which “facts” to report, ignoring significant information and simply cutting and pasting political party talking points, it’s no longer news.
And let’s face it, anyone who argues that the national “mainstream” media isn’t rooting for and bias toward Barack Obama is simply not paying attention or they’re completely dishonest.
But is it only about Barack Obama? Is it just those silly liberal media types who dominate the newsrooms across the nation? I think the bias this year is rooted in a much more primal instinct.
The fact is that the mainstream forms of news (newspapers, magazines) are dying off. The major television news programs are bleeding viewers. The decision by Newsweek to publish only online should tell us something. Yes, the Internet changed the face of news, but the extraordinary bias of the MSM has done something else – it’s alienated about half the readership in America. The MSM chose sides, and it chose badly. Readership of the Washington Post is plummeting, as it is for nearly every newspaper in America. How much longer they’ll still be delivering newspapers to our doorsteps is anybody’s guess, but it isn’t being measured in decades.
And if the MSM loses this election (i.e. Romney wins)? With little or no credibility left, having misled the American people on everything from Lybia to presidential polling to ObamaCare, the only people subscribing to the MSM will be those who support the loser. The timetable for its demise speeds up exponentially.
The MSM has to win this election to remain relevant. Losing is not an option, and when that’s where you are at, desperation follows.
In other words, we haven’t seen anything yet.