Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Liberal Media Bias

A few years ago I read a book called What Liberal Media? the Truth About Bias and the News by Eric Alterman. I was a field technician at the time and spent a lot of time behind the wheel and consequently I was listening to an awful lot of talk radio. For the most part I simply accepted the fact that the talk show hosts were just entertainers. Their job, as many of them will freely admit, is simply to keep you irritated long enough to hear a few commercials. I never associated the opinions of the host with the overall opinion of the station. I did my best to believe that the news department was above the type of hysterics and fear mongering that the talk show hosts used.
Alterman claimed and provided pretty good evidence that in truth the media is actually impotent at best and at worst conservative biased. He pointed to the fact that most media conglomerates are so large and they have their hands in so many other ventures that it is virtually impossible for them to report on anything without potentially damaging their own bottom line. Shortly after Disney purchased ABC Michael Eisner was quoted as saying that he did not think it would be appropriate for ABC to report on any Disney news because it would be a conflict of interest. Alterman showed that this type of “protect the bottom line” journalism lead to the creation of a whole genre of news type programs and human interest pieces that aren’t really news at all. Personally I’m getting pretty sick about hearing all the gossip about Brad, Jennifer, Tom and Whats-her-name.
Alterman quotes just about every major conservative pundit as knowing that the “liberal media” was a myth but that it was a productive myth that they continued to perpetrate because it was entertaining.
So it’s pretty easy to make the jump from believing in a liberal media to an impotent media, but what about the jump from there to believing it’s actually a conservative media? That took a little bit longer for me to swallow. At the time I first read the book I did not quite accept his claims that the media was conservative, but some recent events have caused me to rethink this. Look at the ad that I have included in this post. Please keep in mind that this not an ad for any of the local talk show hosts. This particular ad is for the news department of WSB radio. The obvious insinuation here is that all three of these men are in the same line for the same type of treatment. You may or may not agree with the political statement made here, but that's not the point is it? Is this the type of insinuation you would expect to get from the liberal media? Can anyone honestly even call it unbiased? It seems clear to me that at least the advertising executive who approved this ad either has a strong conservative streak or they are deliberately pandering to their primarily conservative audience. Personally I have no problem with this when they are advertising for their “entertainment” opinion programming, but this was for their news programming.
When I first read the book I dismissed much of his claims as just reaching a little bit too far. Thanks to this ad I have checked out the book again. Now that I’ve seen some evidence of exactly what he was claiming, this time I won’t dismiss his claims quite so easily.

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