Saturday, November 15, 2008

that pesky liberal media bias

Why is it that conservatives tend to think the media is biased in favor of liberals?

Before we can talk about the liberal bent of the media, we must get a good grasp of what it means to be liberal or conservative, so if you haven't read my post entitled you might actually be a conservative, go back and do so now.

Ok, now that we're all up to speed, it is no surprise that conservatives would think the media has a liberal bias. Remember that the prime directive for conservatives is to preserve the way things are or were.

Now consider the role and purpose of the press: discovery of the facts, where ever they lie, and whatever the consequence. At least that's the ideal. When the press loses its objectivity and slants the news to support a specific position, we call that propaganda. Propaganda is inherently conservative because its purpose is to preserve or enhance a specific view of how things are or "should" be. Note that propaganda can be used to protect either the Republican or Democratic points of view, but in either case it is conservative.

As I have written about liberalism and conservatism, I have tried to use the most neutral language I can. But the fact is that some aspects of conservatism are hard to describe neutrally. For example, the simple truth is that liberal thinking is open minded while conservative thinking is closed minded. As I say this, I am painfully aware that some of you might think that I am attacking you because you think of yourself as a conservative. If you consider yourself closed minded, then the shoe fits and you should wear it. But if you hold well considered, thoroughly examined views that the conventional thinking considers to be conservative, I am not talking about you at all.

If you are truly open minded, and still come to the same conclusions you have always held, then you are acting liberally. If you are closed minded, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you are acting conservatively.

I feel like I am beating this point to death, but it is very important, and a radical departure from how the two party system treats the subject. Neither party is open minded about their pet issues, and it is an illusion to call either one liberal.

This is revealed in the fact that both Democrats and Republicans tend to believe the press is slanted against them. That is because for the most part, the press is not carrying their water. There are exceptions, and press neutrality is never perfect, but the best evidence that it still exists is the dissatisfaction of both sides with press coverage.

To the degree that the press holds on to it's open minded neutral objectivity, it is liberal. It is liberal in the best sense of the word, and will hold the two poles of American politics in balance.
So yes, the press is mostly liberal and you should be very, very glad. The only alternative is propaganda.

4 comments:

NO REP said...

In the spirit of the "Fairness Doctrine" why is it that liberials tend to think the media reports with "neutral objectivity"? Could it be they are being told what they want to here.
In this question the word Liberials is used in context with todays understanding of the term which is relative to one's political orientation not if she/he thinks for themselves.

Houndog said...

Most of the Dems and other left-of-the-aisle types that I know do not believe the press has been neutral throughout most of the Bush Administration. Most believe the press carried Bush's water until recently on terrorism and the Iraq war.

Whether this is true or not, it does indicate that while the press might (hopefully) have a liberal bias, it does not have a Left bias. If it had a Left bias, Dems would have thought it was doing ok.

Jesse said...

I've never felt like the media reports with "neutral objectivity". I think journalistic objectivity is a myth. I'd say that virtually all of mainstream media has very clear political affiliations and agendas. I also believe that while some news outlets attempt to report without bias, biases are shown in which stories run vs. which do not.

I guess I had Zinn pounded into my head in high school too often to look at it any other way. "History is a viewpoint, and that viewpoint is biased." What is News but tomorrow's history today?

I only agree that the press should be "liberal" in the way you've outlined in that I don't agree with a lot of what's going on in the current political arena, and would like to see things change drastically. If things were going well, I wouldn't want the media muckraking just to keep "liberal".

I feel like this discussion of media misses a lot of the nuances that were in the discussion of Liberal vs. Conservative, specifically along the line that the press can be supportive of the current administration/status quo and still be liberal, so long as the decision for support was come to with an open mind.

Houndog said...

Jesse,
I know this objectivity thing is very subjective. :) But that doesn't mean we should ever let the press off the hook for their best effort at honesty.

And I never intended to imply that the press should always be negative. Open minded honesty can be positive or negative, and can provide support for a position, either a left or right position, as long as the facts support that position.

Along those lines, the press did not uncover Watergate because they were out to get Republicans, but because there were real facts that needed to be uncovered.

There is an entirely different discussion about why the press tends to slant to the negative.