I am so sick and tired of hearing about the so-called liberal media. It’s gotten to the point where Bush could be found in a love tryst with Saddam and Screech from Saved by the Bell and the second the story ran, the response would be, “Oh, there goes that liberal media again, distorting the facts … ”
Constant repetitions of this useful myth make it seem like there is a giant liberal headquarters — probably in San Francisco — where the most powerful liberals in the world sit around thinking of new ways to sully the good names of conservatives everywhere. This perspective is just as inane as saying, “Well, you know, the Jews run the media.”
The truth is that the allegations of a “liberal media” by the right are more than a reactionary measure; it’s actually an effective strategy. Eric Alterman, in his book, What Liberal Media? says, “Conservatives know that if the press is effectively intimidated, either by the accusation of liberal bias or by a reporter’s own mistaken belief in the charge’s validity, the institutions that conservatives revere — the military, corporate America, organized religion and the powerful conservative groups themselves — will be able to escape scrutiny and increase their influence. Working the refs works … ”
The effects of this “constant drumbeat of groundless accusation,” are evident to anyone who watches a panel show. The “liberal” side of the table feels compelled to agree with their counterparts on at least one or two issues through the course of the show lest they fail to prove their objectivity and get cast as just another cog in the liberal wheel. Conservatives feel no such compulsion.
The wool has been pulled over our eyes so completely that the press has become sedated. Far from seeing a liberal media, I see a media that has forgotten how to ask the tough questions and forgotten that the words “no comment” rarely ever mean that. Reporting, never meant to be a cushy job, has become just that.
Bill O’Reilly, for example, gets a kick out of casting himself as the common man. “I understand working-class Americans. I’m as lower-middle class as they come.” O’Reilly’s contract is an estimated $20 million, and he drives a Lexus.
For all accounts of a rampant liberal slant, when it mattered the most, during the 2000 election, the liberal media fell asleep at the wheel.
Perhaps it is too long gone to remember the near-ringing endorsements that then Gov. George W. Bush got from The New York Times, The Washington Post and our own dear Inquirer, every time he got in front of cameras and made a speech without falling down or forgetting how to read (here, we see the true effects of the “soft bigotry of low expectations”). He waffled on cocaine use, and it was a non-issue. The combined three DUI convictions he and Dick Cheney split were dismissed as the products of wild youth, as if that makes it less of a crime. Neither, by the way, was close to his youth at the time. And let’s not forget the most unforgivable aspect of his character — this is the man who traded Sammy Sosa. That move, I think, was a tribute to his business sense.
Where, I ask, is the liberal media in all this?
I think the much maligned liberal media put Bush in the White House, perhaps as a reaction to constant allegations of liberal bias, perhaps because the Bush campaign actually did have better food than Gore’s, people who wonder about these things have all kinds of theories.
But whatever the reason, Bush got an unquestionably easy ride from the press and he took it all the way to the top.