Well, for years now — maybe decades — I have patiently listened to the rightwing talking heads, conservative politicos and even some of my Republican friends railing against the “liberal press”. Or as they say, “If only ‘The Media’ would report things accurately, and without liberal bias, all would be well. It’s ‘The Media,’ Stupid.”
Well, I guess my patience has finally run out as I watched Sean Hannity the other night perpetuating this claim, and as the saying goes, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” It’s not that I mind being attacked for my liberal leanings, or even that conservative talk show hosts are given to making outlandish statements. My complaint is simply that the so-called liberal bias of “The Media” is simply not true!
Look at the facts. Look at the ownership of media in America. And, finally, define for me: What is “The Media”? The media are something I know a bit about after spending 45 years as owner of several ad agencies.
In search of ‘The Media’
To begin with, there really is no “The Media” in our country. “The media” are huge and diverse, and the mainstream is heavily in control of massive media corporations with absolutely no evidence of liberal agendas. In fact, in a sense, it proves just the opposite.
Take the Rupert Murdoch empire of News Corp.: All the Fox networks and many stations, Direct TV, the New York Post, 20th Century Fox, plus 175 newspapers, and now the venerable Wall Street Journal — are they “The” media? If so, the onservatives are getting a bum deal, because Murdoch is an unabashed defender of the right.
Maybe it is Time Warner? They own Time, Warner Bros, TW Cable, CNN, AOL and much more. Are they the ones spewing all this liberal misdirection?
To me, NBC has one of the best news departments going. But, they are owned by GE! Hardly a liberal lapdog. GE also owns MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo and more; and it partners with Vivendi, a huge international media giant. Maybe it is GE that is sending out all this negativity about America.
No? Well then, look to those Hearst folks reporting all that misinformation. Hearst owns 12 metro daily newspapers, 28 TV stations and 20 business-to-business magazines, which are the very core of conservative editorials. Are they “The” media causing so much dissent?
Then there are the thousands of independent radio stations, hundreds of independent local TV outlets, thousands of local newspapers and magazines. “The media” simply does not exist as a monolithic voice for unrest. “The Media” is a myth.
Maybe it’s the fault of the ‘Times Twins’
Ah, but then there is the dreaded “Times Twins” — the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, the poster children of the liberal dogma. Therein lies the rub. They, apparently, are “The Media,” the ones causing all this trouble and discontent.
There are two noteworthy points about these papers. First, less than one-third of 1 percent of the American public actually read these papers. But secondly, I acknowledge that a vast number of additional folks do read or see on TV stories from these papers in the form of wire service stories, syndications and other forms of journalistic pickups. (The Twin Cities papers frequently pick up their articles.) So they do have influence, but mostly because within the journalistic world they are viewed as paragons of good writing and solid reporting.
So, perhaps we can agree the press is not owned by liberal entities. But then, there is the ongoing suspicion that within the journalistic community and inside the newsrooms, there are those “closet” liberals that skew the news. Well, there is no evidence of that, only a claim.
Indeed, the same claim could be made, lacking any evidence, that there are “closet” conservatives, too. However, my own belief is that in the more prominent and influential media, the newsrooms are mostly populated by professionals who report news without favor or bias. Just the way it should be!
So, let’s turn to the local scene. Here, one of my friends derisively refers to the Star Tribune as the “Red Star of the North.” Well, I have subscribed to that paper for nigh on 40 years, and I have seen them consistently endorse candidates of both major parties (including my own Republican congressman, Jim Ramstad). Their editorial pages have columnists of varying political persuasions weekly. The paper picks up international and national news from a wide variety of sources. And frankly, most news content is really filled with stories where political bias is irrelevant.
On the radio front, you can get all the earfuls you want of Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Beck, and even hear the truth being savaged, by Michael Savage. Yes, you can listen to Air America, but its portion of the radio dial is fractional, compared with The Patriot and many other right-leaning stations.
And, regarding MinnPost.com, I have no idea what its political views are, and don’t even want to know: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” I did note they had two opinion articles by Mitch Pearlstein of the highly conservative Center for the American Experiment, as well as an earlier piece from me, and I find that balanced and appropriate.
Classic ‘blame the messenger’
So, what is this all about? First, a liberal cabal certainly does not dominate the news in our country; and there is no “The Media” in our country. Rather, the major reason the righties like to blame “The Media” is to give them convenient cover for the failures of their friends in Washington. , Things in Iraq, for example, are fine if only so reported. The economy is wonderful, if only the press would report it, etc. It is simply the old story of killing the messenger if you don’t like the message.
Well, any press worth its salt and an ounce of integrity will not report fiction and untruths; nor should the press in America skew the news toward any political bias, right or left. Evidence is they don’t now, and surely not a liberal tilt. Let’s hope they never will.
Myles Spicer of Minnetonka has spent his entire business career as a professional writer and owned several successful ad agencies over the past 45 years.