Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On the Myth of the "Liberal Media"

Is there anyone out there who still entertains delusions of a "liberal media"?

Once upon a time, the media may well have been "liberal", in that it was not only free to but obligated to present a balanced representation of current events.  But that started to change after Reagan and the Republicans got their hands on things in the eighties.   At some point, some group of ultra-rich geniuses realized that media free of financial and ideological obligations to mega-corporate owners came off as way too liberal.  The media were free to report and develop stories not necessarily conducive to putting money in the pockets of those who already had more money than God, but nevertheless wanted to make sure that more--perhaps ALL--money was channeled in their direction.  Oh, it all seemed a very straightforward and "small government" philosophy.  They sold the action to the American public by declaring that "excessive" government regulation limited the rights and the freedoms of all Americans. 

In reality, government regulation often is put into place in order to control the rampant greed that is an unfortunate corollary of our capitalist system.  The GOP had no interest in protecting the freedoms of Average Joe Citizen.  What they had was an agenda to allow monied interests--almost always closely linked to the Republican Party--to purchase entire monopolies of media outlets, the better to disseminate their message to the American people.   So the concept of media deregulation was born.

And yet, the right still has the audacity to holler  "Liberal media bias!" at any story that might leak past the conservative blockade of corporate-controlled media.  And a shocking number of conservative sheep--I mean, average citizens--take up that cry and seem to really, truly believe it.  Sigh.  Don't think my theory has merit?  Let me just ask--why do you think conservatives are so publicly and adamantly anti government "subsidies" for public media outlets like NPR?  Because conservative big business interests can't control the message.  

Still believe in liberal media bias?  Here's the story that actually got me started on the subject this morning:  Dan Rather on the Difference Between Him and Lara Logan:  My Story Was True.    In case you've forgotten, Rather lost his job in 2004 in a flap created over a negative story about then president (and presidential candidate) George W. Bush's military service.  A story that was never proven untrue, never refuted by Bush Administration or campaign officials; a story that was shouted down so quickly and so thoroughly by the "liberal media" that Rather was forced to end an illustrious four-decade association with CBS news, skulking off with his tail between his legs.

Nine years later, Lara Logan screws the pooch on a story that would put an Obama Administration damning spin on the Benghazi "scandal,"--by using as her featured witness a "contractor" (read: mercenary) whose version of the story changes and enhances depending upon to whom he is requested to recount it.  In other words, she assembled a piece that was basically a pack of lies, in a bid to advance her own personal political agenda.  I have two questions: 1.)   Why, even though it has been almost a decade since the Rather debacle, would CBS allow one of their talking heads to go anywhere near a story with such flimsy basis in documentable fact?  and 2.)  Why would CBS air this story without properly vetting it?

Could it be that the primary consideration afforded the story was that it leaned in an anti-administration direction "approved" by someone with buckets full of money?  Did corporate owners actually believe they could sneak a Fox-esque collection of conjectures and untruths past a veteran audience that has been trained to hold a venerable news vehicle the like of "60 Minutes" to a much higher standard of truth and excellence in reporting?  CBS first endeavored to defuse the outrage over the story by having Logan appear on camera with an "apology."  When the controversy stubbornly refused to go away despite Logan's weak and disingenuous "my bad!" the network finally bowed to public pressure and asked Logan to "take a leave of absence."  I'm sure nobody was as surprised as CBS' corporate owners that a large enough portion of a less-than-conservative body of viewing public would make a loud enough stink about their cheesy, agenda-driven attempt at "fair and balanced coverage" that they would be forced to back-pedal as furiously as they have for the past month.

I take that back.  I can't say that nobody was as surprised as CBS over this flap.  I was surprised.  I was surprised that a blow was struck for truth and research and real investigative reporting, and against shoving ideological pablum disguised as "news" down the throats of the American people.  No kudos here for CBS.  High fives to the audience who stuck to their high standards, would not accept lame efforts at mollification, and held CBS and the reporter accountable.

It will be interesting to see where it all goes from here.    


No comments: