Democrats Show Signs of Realizing Conservative Bias In Media
John Stewart - Political News Powerhouse?
Those of us who pay close attention to the news media have known for years that the So-Called Liberal Media was a myth perpetrated by the GOP to “work the refs” as Bill Kristol once famously remarked. As Eric Alterman wrote in his book “What Liberal Media?” the GOP has complained about an alleged liberal media bias for years as a tool for browbeating the media towards favorable and sheepish coverage, while wanting voters to ignore that it is conservative Corporate America that actually owns the large majority of that same media and dictates its content.
As a result of the propagating of the myth of a liberal media, conservatives continue to rail against what they see as a bias, while they disregard the fact that they have large segments of the media created just for them, and get almost all of their news from totally biased sources: Fox News and conservative talk radio. What hasn’t been happening on the liberal side has been an equal anger amongst liberals and progressives, aimed at this Bush-friendly conservative bias in the media. At least, that dissatisfaction hasn’t registered with our side up until now.
Americans are evenly split over whether news organizations favor one political party or the other, with a growing number of Democrats joining a larger number of Republicans in seeing the media as biased toward the other side.
Twenty-nine percent of Democrats surveyed by the Pew Research Center say presidential campaign coverage is tilted toward the GOP, up from 19 percent in 2000, a study released yesterday says. Forty-two percent of Republicans see bias toward the Democrats, up from 37 percent in the last presidential campaign. Overall, 39 percent see biased reporting, and 38 percent do not.
"Democrats think the media are giving President Bush a free pass," said Andrew Kohut, the center's director. "For years most of the discontent was on the Republican side, and now it's bipartisan."
Moreover, the study found that a growing number of people, especially those under 30 now get their political news not from establishment media (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox), but from alternate news sources like the internet and comedy programs like John Stewart’s “The Daily Show” or “Saturday Night Live.”
Equally striking is a fundamental shift in which more Americans are turning away from the establishment media and getting their campaign information from newer outlets. One-third say they regularly or sometimes get political news from the Internet, a jump of nine percentage points in four years. Among people younger than 30, one in five reports regularly learning about the campaign from such comedy programs as Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" and "Saturday Night Live" -- double the level of four years ago.
After years of hype, the Web has clearly come into its own in the 2004 campaign. Nearly one in five Americans reports going online for political activity, such as researching issues and e-mailing campaigns. Dean's supporters were somewhat more likely than others, by 26 percent to 19 percent, to seek news online.
Of course, those who watch Fox are the most likely to think the media is biased, and it has been shown previously that those who watch Fox were the most misinformed about the Iraq war and the reasons we went to war.
But the poll shows that Democrats are finally catching on that the media is biased against them. The bigger challenge is to figure out how to increase the awareness of voters of the Democratic campaign and the candidates and issues before us.
The greatest defections were among those younger than 30, nearly two-thirds of whom say they are not even somewhat interested in the Democratic presidential campaign. Only 15 percent could say which candidate served as an Army general (Wesley K. Clark) or which one was House majority leader (Richard A. Gephardt).
Major political controversies may be reaching fewer voters than campaign insiders think. Nearly six in 10 of those surveyed, regardless of age, say they have heard nothing about Howard Dean's widely reported remark about appealing to "guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks." Just 20 percent say they have seen any of the Democratic debates. Those most knowledgeable about the campaign were Internet users, National Public Radio listeners and newsmagazine readers.
An under informed electorate is an electorate that plays into the hands of Karl Rove and the major corporate networks, who will gleefully take the $200 million from the Bush campaign to “educate” voters on their version of reality. As a first step however, at least the Democrats are waking up to the reality of a conservative bias in the corporate media. The next step should be to get in the game themselves.