PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

April 7, 2013

The myth of a liberal media

Neal Morgan
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — I'm fairly sick and tired of hearing Republicans whine about the “liberal media”. The liberal media is a Republican myth — it doesn't exist. I heard about it again a few days ago.

“Well,” this guy said, “that liberal media really helped Obama and all those Democrats in the last election.”

Horse hockey! It just ain't so. As I've reported before, the major media is corporately owned — that's CBS, NBC, ABC, the Associated Press, and a bunch of major daily newspapers. And some 99.9% of the time those corporations are GOP oriented.

Research has proven that the GOP's critique of the “liberal” news media rests solidly on a couple of ideas.

First, journalists’ views are to the left of public opinion. Second, newsmen frame news content in a way that helps the left.

Much research, by universities, journalists, and others, has shown, however, that the validity of the first idea has been just taken for granted by the public. And the latter claim has been revealed to be wrong.

Washington based journalists who did research on the supposed left orientation of media personnel found the following: On select issues from corporate power and trade to Social Security, and  Medicare, to health care and taxes, journalists are actually more conservative than the general public. Journalists are mostly centrist in their political orientation.

The minority of journalists who do not identify with the “center” are more likely to identify with the “right” when it comes to economic issues and to identify with the “left” when it comes to social issues.

Journalists report that “business oriented news outlets' and “major daily newspapers” provide the highest quality coverage of economic policy issues, while “broadcast network TV news” and “cable news services” provide the worst. I'm in full agreement.

Also, President Obama's news coverage was substantially more negative — even during the week bin Laden was killed. The GOP got much better treatment in the media. While during the last campaign, PEW reported as follows, even the worst Republicans got plenty of coverage.

The top most favorably covered candidates, the study found, were all Tea Party favorites — Perry, Palin, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and, of course, Mitt Romney. But there is a cautionary note with this kind of data, some publications, as I said, carry a lot more weight than others, as do some stories. Associated Press stories, for instance, appear in hundreds of newspapers.

And there was even one AP story that ended up putting a negative spin on the killing of bin Laden...

“A nation surly over rising gas prices, high unemployment, and nasty partisan politics poured into the street to wildly cheer President Barack Obama's announcement that Osama bin Laden, the world's most wanted man, had been killed by US forces after a decade long man hunt. The outcome could not have come at a better time for Obama, sagging in the polls as he embarks on his election campaign.”

The AP article sounds, in the end, as if it's implying that Obama waited until election time to have bin Laden killed.

“Newsweek” magazine's Jonathan Alter wrote...

“Over the last 2 1/2 years Obama never got a honeymoon, if you actually look back into his presidency. He got very positive press the first day, and he's been in the scrum ever since. The truth about American media is that we have gone, over the last 15 years, from something that could have accurately be called a dominant liberal media — through the period of American liberalism, from the end of World War II to the founding of Fox News in 1996 — to a dominant conservative media in this country.”

It is arguable that it is the media's job to set the record straight on criticisms of the President of the United States — to either debunk them or back them up — but in today's divisive world of “info-tainment” the news has become less about reporting the facts and more about entertainment through conflict.

It's more than just a damned shame that newspapers all over America are going broke, while Americans are reading less and less, and watching that television “info-tainment” more and more.

Yes it's more than just a shame, it's downright dangerous to our country's future.

Neal Morgan of Nederland is a retired educator. Contact him at neal.morgan@yahoo.com.