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Thursday, January 27, 2011

media bias - a note

So how did I come to believe that the "mainstream" media was biased?

I came of age, politically, in the era of Cronkite. That was when a world view was formed at the New York Times, Washington Post, the three Networks, and the wire services. Everyone else fell in line and agreed that "that's the way it is" every day at 6:00 pm. It was all so very clear. One can see why the left gets misty eyed for the good ole days when the only dissident view was William F. Buckley, who had a very small audience and was, more or less, dismissed as an eccentric.

Then there was this election in 1994 and the Rs won the House for the first time since Hector was a pup. I watched the ABC World News Tonight's Anchor Peter Jennings, who was apparently in shock, say: "The American people have had a temper tantrum."

I was amazed. Was it an editorial? Was it a talk show? No, it was the ABC NEWS ANCHOR.

I remember thinking that that was not a very objective way to report the news and that: 1) it just slipped out, 2) he will later revise and tone that down, 3) he'll still apologize for his blatant bias, and 4) even after the apology he'll probably still get fired.

I was sure that they would have to do something to maintain their credibility as an objective news agency.

Six days later, in his daily ABC Radio show, November 14, 1994, Jennings clarified his meaning:

“Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It’s clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It’s the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week....Parenting and governing don’t have to be dirty words: the nation can’t be run by an angry two-year-old.”

I never heard of any consequences that ABC imposed on Jennings for his abandonment of any pretense of, or aspiration to, objectivity.

I sometimes get depressed with what Rachel Maddow has called our modern "Atomistic Media" where it seems that there are as many sources as there are recievers of the news.

Personally, I follow Real Clear Politics, Daily Beast cheat sheet, FoxNews Special Report, PBS news, Sunday talk shows, NPR in the car (except when Kaci Bolls has a new cd out), and CNN. Occasionally, I drop in on Kos, Slate, O'Reilly, Rachel, and Hannity. It takes more time, but I think multiple sources is(sic) better than being stuck with relying on the likes of Peter Jennings, any day.

I know that there is some far out stuff in FoxNews talk shows and all of Fox is criticized for being right wing. But I've never seen anything in the news part of FoxNews Special Report like what Peter Jennings did that November.

The idea in the ABC Anchor's rant was used last year as a theme by a liberal columnist.


1 comment:

  1. I was the Fox Special Reports occasionally, I like Anderson Cooper, and sometimes watch Rachel Maddow. I also listen to NPR in the car. Online I try to read a little bit of everything.

    What about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? Do any YA readers watch or pay any attention to these shows?

    I think they are both great, but I'm also sure that I fit pretty squarely into their target audience (20-something, liberal...)