Sunday, October 07, 2007

Liberal Media bites again? Hah!

I find the charge that the US media is "liberal" to be especially amusing, because it is one of those claims that has no resonance in the real world. But if "you" (that is, the people taking up lots of our bandwidth on radio, TV, etc.) repeat something often and loudly enough, after a while, people seem to accept it as a sort of truth.

It is, for example, almost impossible to find a real left wing voice or face on television. And of course in recent years, all major media, even that most "liberal" of newspapers, The New York Times, went out of their way to support President Bush as he lied his way straight into the tragedy unfolding in Iraq.

Yet those are very broad-brush examples/counter-arguments. I ran across a much more concrete example this morning of how the US media is largely biased in favor of the right wing.

Check out this article on Yahoo News:

Springsteen ready for criticism over "Magic" words

From Reuters, it leads off with this text:

"Bruce Springsteen's new album "Magic" marks his return to the pop sound that propelled him to mega-stardom in the 1980s, but the hook-laden melodies mask lyrics portraying an America of despair and hopelessness.

"Springsteen says he is prepared for criticism from those who may take the lyrics on his latest album "Magic" as unpatriotic for speaking out against the Iraq war and President George W. Bush in war time."

Now, c'mon, folks - who at this point pretends that this war is popular or that criticism of this war would be considered "unpatriotic"? Just the right wing nut cases. The war is demonstrably, overwhelmingly unpopular. Many people, from all walks of life, all political parties, are criticizing Bush and Cheney and Gates.

Wouldn't a more accurate headline and overall subject for this article be something like: "Springsteen to put Bush Administration further on defensive with new album"?

This article, in other words, is not really news. It is a twisting of the news to persuade us that we should be thinking of Iraq war criticism as being "unpatriotic."


Michael O'Neill said...

I tried to create link, but it didn't work. Anyway, I blogged my comment here.

Steven Feuerstein said...

Here's what Michael wrote:

Open Letter to Steven:

I want you to understand what people mean when they say, liberal media. What it means is that their bias revolves around four commandments:

#1 There are no moral absolutes.
#2 Hysteria is first; asking intelligent questions is for later (or never).
#3 Feelings matter more than reason.
#4 Words don't mean things.

These concepts are demonstrated consistently by journalists that identify themselves as unbiased in the mainstream media. Now you know.

Michael O'Neill said...

I guess the link thing eventually did work. My apologies for the mess.

Thanks for the compliment on my play on words; I thought myself quite clever on that.

First, I wasn't really trying to make a counter argument to your detailed exasperation. Rather, I felt your entire thesis, that people identifying the media as liberal, was specious. Because it is true, if you define liberal in a certain way. And, I further clarified that certain definition in my post. I wasn't trying to agree or disagree with your point, I was trying to add clarity where there was none.

Second, I wouldn't agree that my post was hysterical. Offensive, perhaps, but not hysterical.

Third, I never claimed Fox News was or wasn't liberal. By my definition of what makes the liberal media worthy of disparaging generalizations - I would tend to believe it would make sense to include Fox News under that umbrella. However, I don't watch Fox News more than twice a year, so I can't assert that with great confidence. I suppose it would be up to you to support how Fox News packaged lies any more than another news organization. From my limited perspective all the electronic news organizations seemed to ask (and not ask) the same questions going into the war (and since too). Please provide some examples that supports such a wide-ranging claim that should be easy to support, were it true.

I believe that, were I hell bent on making a wide-ranging claim like saying Fox News is just as liberal (as I defined it) as any other electronic news media, I don't imagine it would be that difficult to find a half dozen supporting examples in this week's broadcasts. However, I'm not making that claim and I have no desire to watch that much television news, which I believe is neither news nor good television.

Fourth, as far as throwing around disparaging words anonymously - I'll grant you that doing so is wrong, is both morally and intellectually lazy. However, my anonymity was not intentional. My blog and domain are new; the anonymity was an oversight.

We've spoken before and I've commented on your blogs previously, and I suppose I erroneously imagined my last post was just a continuation of that loose Internet relationship. I've updated my blog with my non-anonymous profile, so I won't make that mistake again.

Finally, as far as making ludicrous claims, Your original post didn't even support your point. You criticized Reuters for publishing right-wing nut rhetoric - when all article (and headline) did was quote Bruce himself. You are calling Bruce a right-wing nut, which of course makes no sense. Now, it could be a misquote - but that isn't what you are claiming. The story, as you present it, seems like Bruce is saying he's prepared for a backlash (he presumably doesn't believe he deserves) and the reporter is reporting that. The article makes no claim that such backlash would be deserved or undeserved.

I think I'll find a half dozen real world examples of mainstream news (not opinion) today on the Internet that resonates with my claim that it is effortless to spot liberal media as I've defined it. I'll illuminate why they satisfy my definition of liberal media.

I challenge you to clarify how you define liberal media and find recent examples that support your belief that the media isn't liberal.

Michael O'Neill (

Michael O'Neill said...

I don't have as much time to read news as I'd like, but here is one example that demonstrates liberal media, specifically point #2 (hysteria first)

NYT -Middle East: In Iran, Putin Warns Against Military Action

Specifically, the paragraph: The American presence and collaboration in the region have alarmed Moscow, while Washington’s potential access to improved airfields in two countries bordering Iran — Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan — has fueled speculation that the airfields could support actions against Tehran.

It has the dubious distinction of double hysterical speculation. How is Moscow "alarmed". No evidence is given for such a strong claim. Also, fueled who's "speculation", the NYTs editorial board? Both very strong claims that are in fact NOT news in any way, but statements of feeling and emotions without any requirement for supporting text.

I bit off more than I could chew, thinking I'd have time to read dozens of news articles a day. So, I'll do my best to point out one a day or so.