Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Liberal Media myth

Did you know that an MSNBC investigative study found 144 political donations by newsroom employees between 2004 and today? And of those 144 donations, an overwhelming number went to Democrats?!? Wow!!! Proof positive that the media has a liberal bias!!!
Yeah, right.
That is 144 donations out of more than 100,000 newsroom employees across the nation. Less than 2/10ths of 1 percent.
Furthermore, it proves nothing that someone may have voted Democratic or contributed to a Democratic candidate or cause as concerns their actual news reporting (assuming they do news reporting - most newsroom employees have nothing to do with political coverage).
What this bogus “study” tells us is that they are desperate to prop up the myth of a liberal media in the face of the overwhelming takeover of public discourse by the right-wing noise machine. The Op-Ed pages and the TV opinion shows are already chock full of conservative wingnuts. They would be happy to throw bricks at liberals on TV, but, other than Keith Olbermann, there are none. They are left trying to invent liberal bias out of the straightforward news coverage, most of which is rigidly centrist and objective to a fault. So rather than trying to demonstrate actual bias in news reporting, they try to infer bias by showing that reporters tend to vote Democratic or donate predominantly to liberal causes. But even in that effort they come up short, as the pathetic excuse of a study by MSNBC so aptly illlustrates.

Robert Parry has a good synopsis exposing the myth of the liberal media. I want to highlight this one part where he talks about the exact thing that the MSNBC study purports to do:

Another way to illustrate the fallacy of the “liberal media” argument is to hypothesize that a survey of editorial workers at, say, Murdoch’s New York Post would find that most editorial employees voted Democratic – not an unreasonable assumption for professionals living in New York City – and a minority voted Republican.
Under the logic of using how journalists voted to determine the bias of the company where they work, such a survey would “prove” that the New York Post was a liberal newspaper dominated by pro-Democratic articles. But it’s a decidedly conservative newspaper bristling with pro-Republican commentary.
The reason is simple: the woman writing obits or the guy doing the copy editing or the reporter covering the police beat – the working stiffs who may have voted Democratic – have only marginal influence over the newspaper’s slant. The content – and especially editorial opinions – are determined in the corporate offices by top editors and executives who report back to Murdoch.

I’ve worked in the news business for nearly 20 years in both the liberal Northeast and in the most conservative parts of Texas. I would describe most of my fellow newsroom workers during that period as leaning left, but mostly apolitical. Furthermore, those who were liberal were intimidated by the constant condemnations of the media by right-wing harrassment groups - even in the Northeast. If you were too conservative in your reporting, you were safe. If you were too “liberal” you were risking your job.
There were also plenty of “conservatives” in the newsrooms where I worked. One guy I worked with was an exceptional reporter who gave no indication of his political views. But after I got to know him I learned that he was very conservative (religious right). We became good friends and would debate politics quite often. Then one day an editorial writing position opened at the paper and we both applied for it. I’ll give you one guess as to who got tapped for the job.
That was in Lubbock, by the way. I guess I should not have harbored any illusions that they would allow a liberal to join their editorial board. Nevertheless, my friend was an excellent choice for the position as well, although it added absolutely no ideological diversity to the paper’s opinion section.

Most people who buy into this liberal media myth don’t have the foggiest clue as to how news organizations work. There is a bias to the news media, but it is not based on ideology. It is based on money. The Paris Hilton coverage is a fine example of this. We are getting this endless dreck on Paris Hilton because it sells advertising. That’s what it is all about.

No comments:

Post a Comment