Politics is Perception: The Myth of the Liberal Media

Posted on Monday, May 9th, 2005 at 10:54 am by Dan Chiras

Welcome to the post-factual age, a time when politics and government have abandoned any allegiance it once had with policies and positions supported by facts for a free-for-all of misleading images and ingenuous values that cloak an ugly truth.

Today, politics has foresaken reason and become a game of perception. Facts have become irrelevant to those who mislead, indeed brainwash, the public to accept an ideology of a select few who stand to benefit from the constant barrage of lies and subterfuge that is systematically robbing us of our country.

In this day and age, details and facts have been relegated to the back seat. Perception is everything, and it’s riding in the front seat with no seat belt on and an open bottle of Jack Daniels!

Take the myth of the liberal media.

Ask almost anyone on the street and they’ll tell you that the media has a liberal bent. God knows, the Social Fundamentalists who are taking control of the Republican party to advance their anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-family, and increasingly anti-free speech agenda have been broadcasting this false accusation so boldly and unremittingly — and we’ve all heard it so often — that few doubt its veracity.

But does this assertion really hold up to close scrutiny?

Is the American public being fed a set of lies?

Are we all being duped by a well-oiled propaganda machine?

And, more important, why?

The truth is that the widespread allegations of a liberal press is a bold lie – ironically from people who pride themselves on their moral values — of which we must assume honesty is one.

If the press were liberal, we’d rarely hear from the Conservative Right Wing. Their viewpoints would be buried on page 30 of our newspapers beneath ads for kitty litter.

But they’re not.

If the media was a liberal juggernaut, conservative authors would never make it to the talk shows. They’d be shunned and silenced.

But they’re not.

They’re everywhere, loud and clear.

In 2002, according to George Lakoff, author of Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, conservative talking heads on America’s TV stations occupied 80% of the air time allotted to commentary and analysis.

Is that a sign of a liberal press?

And consider the beating President Clinton took in office during the White Water Scandal. “For eight years, the nation’s largest mainstream news organizations devoted substantial resources to bringing down a Democratic administration,” writes Joe Conason in his book, Big Lies: The Right Wing Propaganda Machine and How it Distorts the Truth. He goes on to say, “Investigative units at ABC News and NBC News chased scandal stories so zealously that they became virtual adjuncts of the prosecutors and conservative groups attacking the White House.”

And consider how unfavorably the press treated Al Gore during his bid for the Presidency in 2000. Dig deeply and you’ll find false allegations passed around by the mainstream media – which came from Conservative groups — that didn’t cease, even when proven false. Their lies tarnished Gore’s image and thwarted his campaign.

Compare the patterns of attack by the liberal media to the way in which the press has treated President George W. Bush’s alleged drug use, alcohol abuse, and SEC violations (insider trading) while with Harken Energy – allegations that make Martha Stewart’s transgressions seem like kid’s play.

A false claim by President Bush that he helped pass a patients’ bill of rights while still Governor of Texas were outright lies, but raised little attention in the press. A few notably called them “exaggerations.” Fact is, he vehemently opposed the ideas and vetoed the first such bill. He only signed the second bill when faced with a threat of an imminent override by the Texas state legislature, according to political commentator Molly Ivans, author of Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush,.

Hardly a champion of patients’ rights is he.

Was there much stink about this “white lie”?

But those weren’t the only false claims by the President – so many view as an honest man — that went unchallenged by the supposedly liberal media. For example, Bush once claimed that he’d never lived in Washington, D.C., a tact he supposedly took to make him look like an outsider.

Truth is George W. Bush lived in northwestern Washington, D.C. for eighteen months while working on his father’s campaign.

Did the media call him on this?

Not really.

Bush also claims to have gone to public high school in Texas, once again to make him look like one of the regular guys.

Truth is, he only spent one year in public high school in Midland, Texas, then moved on to private schools in Texas and Massachusetts to be educated among America’s elite.

Did these falsehoods make it to the mainstream conscious by the supposedly liberal media?

Hardly a word was spoken.

And the list goes on.

When touting his tax cuts, which, among other factors, have resulted in the biggest budget deficit in U.S. history, Bush told Americans in his 2003 State of the Union address, “ninety-two million Americans will keep, this year, an average of almost a thousand dollars more of their own money.”

Sounds great and the regular guys he appeals to loved it.

Trouble is, the President was lying with statistics.

Sure, the number is correct. But here’s how it shakes out. Rather than each of us getting $1000 as the statistic is constructed to suggest, the top 1 percent received an average annual tax cut of about $45,000. The 20 percent in the middle receive a whopping $265 or about $20 bucks a month, which is what I got. The bottom 60 percent, get an average tax cut of $95 or $7.91 per month.

Big deal.

Did the President get called on his statistical sleight-of-hand by the media?

I sure missed it.

Why?

Guess who owns and operates America’s supposedly liberal newspapers?

Mostly wealthy conservatives own them, and conservative editors, it seems, determine which stories run and how much time is spent pursuing various stories.

Skeptical?

Why did two out of three of the nation’s newspapers support Bush during the last election?

And what about columnists?

“Of the top fourteen columnists, whose work then appeared in 250 dailies or more, nine were conservative, three were liberal, and two were centrist,” says Conason, citing a study published in Editor and Publisher in 1999.

But these guys are small potatoes compared to George Will, Robert Novak, Cal Thomas and James Dobson, whose work appears in 500 dailies.

Then there’s MSNBC. Consider its post inauguration cover. “MSNB offered viewers of its State of the Union commentary eleven right wing pundits and just two Democrats or liberals in response,” writes Eric Alterman in a piece entitled “Better Read Than Dead?” in The Nation.

To me, the allegations of a liberal media are starting to sound a little hollow.

Brush off the lies and you’ll see that American radio is largely monopolized by extreme conservatives, too, among them the hate monger Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. “Among the top ten radio hosts are several apolitical talkers, but not a single liberal,” writes Conosan.

But here’s the icing on this cake of lies: Even many conservative commentators, when candid, will admit that it’s a big lie. In 1995, for instance, Bill Kristol, a conservative commentator, freely admitted in an interview with the New Yorker magazine, “The liberal media was never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures.”

Even Rush Limbaugh admits that it’s a hoax. “There’s been a massive change in media in this country over the last fifteen years,” he says. “Now, it’s 2002 and the traditional liberal media monopoly doesn’t exist anymore.”

But he and his cronies keep hammering away at this topic.

Why?

Rich Bond a former chairman of the Republican National Committee commented that charges of liberal bias were just maneuvers in the political game. He points out that liberal bashing is akin to the badgering coach who chides the ref on each call. “If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs,’” explains Bond. That means you give the ref a hard time for each call that doesn’t go your way so that in the future, “Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.”

And I think it works.

The press often bends over backwards to give Conservatives their say, to the point that their viewpoints are hogging America’s airways and competing with ads in America’s newspapers.

The more we hear their other propaganda, carefully couched in deceptive language, like their lies of liberal media bias, the more uninformed Americans, which is likely the majority of us, will believe it.

It’s part of their elaborate brainwashing of America.

Moreover, it’s part of a takeover by social fundamentalists, the radical right wing of the Republican Party. And it’s not just liberals they want out of the way. They’re also actively working to unseat moderate Republicans, who support a woman’s right to choose an abortion, gay marriage, and other morally reprehensible acts, according to former New Jersey Governoer and ex-EPA director Christine Todd Whitman, author of It’s My Party, Too.

Imagine how Democrats feel.

All in all, the coup d’état wouldn’t be so bad if the conservatives who were launching this attack were the sensible moderates like Senator McCain from Arizona, responsible people who stand for true freedom and honest and open debate, but they’re not. “The social fundamentalists,” writes Whitman, “are pushing to use government’s power – and extend its influence – into even the most private aspects of people’s lives in an effort to impose their views on everyone….They seem to have forgotten that one of America’s greatest strengths has always been its ability to respect a broad range of ideas centered on a core set of values—freedom, opportunity, and diversity.”

But it is worse than that. Many are hate mongers and hypocrites who advance a narrow moral vision who would, while preaching freedom, actually deny freedoms that most Americans hold dear. And they’re doing it on your time through the supposedly liberal media they dominate.

Copyright 2005 by Dan Chiras

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