Over the past couple of days I’ve heard the phrase “media elite” or the “liberal media,” or some combination thereof, in a half dozen places including opinion pieces and letters to the editor in the Chronicle and on NPR. And it’s inspired me to write this rant.
Those who think there is some uniform liberal bias in the media are fooling themselves. It’s a myth. There is no bias. What’s worse is that there is no conservative bias either.
Why is that worse? It’s worse because the bias isn’t on one side or the other of the isle. The bias is actually just an extremely narrow focus. Which I’ll come back to. First, I want to point out the following.
The NPR piece I heard this morning was an interview with some guy who used to work for Senator McCain in his 2000 presidential bid. He used the phrase “media elite” a dozen times referring to how the liberal media labels McCain in an unflattering light. And I kept thinking to myself, if the media’s got such a crazy liberal bias, why are they even talking to you? Doesn’t the mere fact of your appearance on what’s usually labeled a bastion of liberal elite media — NPR — confirm the fact that this one particular media outlet is actually pretty balanced? And if there is some other liberal elite media, what is it if not NPR? KPFA, maybe? (I’ll give you KPFA. But they hardly have the same national impact or effect that NPR does.)
Don’t even get me started on Fox News. Or even CNN and how both those news organizations are little more centrist-, conservative-, and/or fascist- fear mongering neo-con clones of whatever the White House Press Secretary says.
Don’t even get me started on how the San Francisco Chronicle continues to publish opinion pieces by Pat Buchanan on abortion, week after week, wherein he not only makes up statistics but then does the math wrong to “support” his argument.
Yeah. Liberal bias my ass.
So in the face of those clear conservative biases, how can I say that there isn’t one? Well, I’ll level with you. I don’t really think there isn’t a bias. I just like to say things like that to get your attention in the hopes that you’ll keep reading.
But I stand by my assertion that the media in general is simplistic and narrow-minded. It is obsessed with the following four things to the almost total exclusion of everything else happening in the world:
(1) whether or not there really is a bias in the media and which way it leans (rather than an honest assessment of who owns the media (large international corporations) and why their fixation on the bottom line shrinks news staffs and forces them to give people sound bites rather than actual reportage)
(2) how scientists have proven beyond any doubt that there are in fact human causes to global warming and we’re all going to die and/or how Al Gore is either trying to save the planet or a hypocrite (rather than making a calm and reasoned argument in favor of personal and corporate changes we could all make to actually curb the effects of global warming while simultaneously ending poverty)
(3) the war in Iraq and how it’s going down the tubes without ever (a) laying responsibility where it should be or (b) calling for impeachment (rather than the larger and far more important issue of how diplomacy and a change in policy toward Israel would probably go a long way to end terrorism thus making the “war on terrorism” obsolete so we could direct our energies to other things like the arts and education)
(4) anything anyone of any celebrity, big or small, is up to particularly when it involves taking off their clothes in public (and given how many celebrities there are out there who are getting naked in public, the media doesn’t have a chance)
But of course the media only reacts to what people are willing to watch and/or pay for. (Hint hint.) Which is all the more reason to watch home-made videos of cats flushing toilets on YouTube. At least it’s real.