Tuesday :: Apr 12, 2005

How the Liberal Media Myth is Created - Part 13


by eriposte

This is a continuation of a series on how the "liberal media" myth is created. Previous installments covered myth-creation using "tone" of media coverage (Part 1), "catch-phrases" like 'right-wing extremist' v. 'left-wing extremist' (Part 2), "newspaper headlines" (Part 3), "topics" covered (Part 4), "think-tank" citations (Part 5), journalist ideology or voting preferences (Part 6), public opinion polls on media bias (Part 7), obvious, unintentional errors in news reports (Part 8), [the critic's] ignorance (Part 9), opinions to distort straight news (Part 10), superficial fact checking (Part 11) and no fact checking (Part 12). This part covers attempts to hint at or invent liberal media bias using rank hypocrisy. More than anything else, this is a key characteristic of many media critics on the Right.

Let's start with Bill Hobbs' ode to hypocrisy, chronicled by Jesse at Pandagon:

But I stopped by Bill Hobbs' site today, and found him extolling the virtues of Sinclair's unprecedented campaigning.

Meanwhile, the Kerry campaign calls for protests to against Sinclair stations and Kerry allies Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Feinstein try to get a government probe going of Sinclair. The goal: intimidate Sinclair for telling the truth about the negative impact Kerry's anti-war activities had on POWs. So much for believing in freedom of speech.
[eRiposte note: Telling the "truth"? Some "truth" that. Freedom of "speech"? Unbalanced, partisan, one-sided, fraud on (free) public airwaves is freedom of speech? Right.]

Yep. Same sort of shit the right does every day if they call George W. Bush "conservative" instead of "heroic", and it's a stifling of free speech...if they do it to his side. I asked Hobbs how he viewed the Sinclair stifling of Nightline's Iraq casualty show, telling him that "it's a private company" isn't a good enough answer. His response?

Yes it does "cut it." Fact is, Sinclair has the right to decide what to broadcast and what not to broadcast. The public has a right to watch or not watch, impacting Sinclair's ratings and ad revenue. ABC has a right to affiliate or not affiliate with Sinclair stations. Nobody censored ABC.

Now, what amazes me the most about this response is that it works the exact same way with liberal media bias [eRiposte emphasis]. Conservatives complain incessantly that the media is biased, that they're owed more and more coverage, that the media exists for them more than anyone else. And they also lie about the media a whole lot, too, which doesn't hurt.

Another example, from Bob Somerby, relates to Andrew Sullivan's brilliant display of hypocrisy:

This just in from the flight of birds: Truly, the guy gets stupider every day. Today, Andrew Sullivan spots the "liberal bias" in a movie which hasn’t been made:

ANDREWSULLIVAN.COM: A NEW LOW IN MEDIA BIAS: A new documentary on the Clinton scandals—brought to you by Joe Conason, and funded by Harry Thomason. All that’s needed is for CBS to broadcast it.

Sullivan is upset about the documentary film version of The Hunting of the President, by Conason and Gene Lyons. The movie hasn’t even been shot—but Sullivan has espied its "liberal bias."

Incidentally, this is the same Andrew Sullivan who would later write, in his review of Sidney Blumenthal's "The Clinton Wars":

It's brutally revealing about the stupidity, bigotry, malevolence and extremism of the right-wing forces that became obsessed with president Clinton. I'm glad they ultimately lost.

Of course, Sullivan then predictably goes on to attack the Clintons, but the point of my extract is that "The Hunting of the President" is also a book about the "stupidity, bigotry, malevolence and extremism of the right-wing forces that became obsessed with president Clinton", as it is about their lies and unprecedented fraud (and that of the "mainstream media") against a sitting President, passed on by the same media. Silly me, I actually thought Sullivan may have been in favor of holding the "mainstream media" accountable. "The Hunting of the President" also mentioned Bill Clinton's "reckless and foolhardy behavior" and his "falsehoods and evasions" (quotes from the book). Funny how an airing of all this, to Sullivan, would be a "new low in media bias". Not to mention, he considered the mere plan to make a factual documentary for the theatres to be media bias. Such clownistry probably deserves an award of its own, but Sullivan has certainly earned his membership in the Society Of Flat Earth Wankers (SOFEW).

I guess this is a good time to also mention the views of the unabashed, serial plagiarizer, serial liar and fake-reporter Jeff Gannon aka James Guckert, since he seems to have made himself popular in some conservative circles and with the management of the National Press Club with his "journalism". As Americablog noted (also see Daily Kos):

GG [Gannon/Guckert] just said on the National Press Club that the administration HAD to pay Armstrong Williams to report about No Child Left Behind because they HAD to, the mainstream media wouldn't report fairly about the legislation so Bush had no choice! It was the only way he could get a fair hearing!

Isn't that just fun? It did make me wonder why Gannon has been so obsessed with the mythical "liberal media", for such a media, if it actually existed, would be perfectly acceptable according to his logic. After all, mythical "liberal media" outlets that propagandize (even without pay) in favor of "liberal" politicians or administrations would be doing so simply because they were trying to ensure that they got a fair hearing, right?

Sadly, Gannon decided to rein in his latest brilliant-thought-of-the-day. He probably realized that in his attempt to tell the world what he actually believes to be true, he may have risked looking like a bigger dunce than Power Line and risked destroying the fake war against the "liberal media". So he posted an update on his very own website (aka self-parody) on 4/8/05:

Upon reflection of the discussion, I wanted to provide context for some of my answers that may have been unclear:

Armstrong Williams - I was in no way defending this practice, since I believe it is wrong to pay journalists to write favorable articles. It is PR, plain and simple and journalists have no business being involved in such activities.

Um...Gannon was absolutely defending this practice as this video showed (and yes, I understand that he can't stop lying), but really, there was no need for him to be afraid that he'd become the laughingstock of the world for justifying why journalists should be allowed to be (paid or unpaid) propagandists of the government. After all, his genius clearly appealed to the Bush administration and its (and Gannon's) unflinching supporters.

Let's move on to another faker - L. Brent Bozell III and his Media Research Center. Terry Krepel has been doing a great job at ConWebWatch, reporting on the rank hypocrisy of right-wing media and "media watch" organizations for quite some time now, and this is just one example of how these charlatans keep themselves busy:

And in his July 23 column, he [Bozell] demonstrates the traits that keep him at the top of the hypocrisy charts with bullet.

Titled "Larry Klayman, Bias Exhibit A," Bozell rails against the "media elite" for the recent heavy play given Klayman and his Clinton-harassing Judicial Watch now that it has decided to sue Republicans.
...
Over at CNSNews.com, the news-service subsidiary of MRC, no coverage at all was given to Judicial Watch's announcement of the Cheney lawsuit. The first mention of it on CNS occurred July 26 -- more than two weeks after the lawsuit was announced -- in a story about Judicial Watch's difficulty in serving the papers on Cheney.

That story is only of only four at CNS on Judicial Watch actions against Republicans. In contrast, prior to November 2000 -- the prime Clinton-suing years during which Bozell alleges Judicial Watch "was to be ignored" by the "media elite" -- CNS ran 41 stories that mentioned, if not featured, Judicial Watch and its actions.

And of those 41 stories (as noted previously on ConWebWatch), only 13 described the group as "conservative." The other 28 use terms like "legal watchdog group" or no description at all -- the same "non-ideological" terms Bozell complains the networks are using now. "[eRiposte emphasis] (N)ow that (Klayman's) suing Cheney, there’s no need for the warning label, and almost every newscast totally dropped the ideological tag," Bozell states.

But Bozell also says "there was nothing inaccurate" about the "conservative" tag: "Klayman actively solicited conservative movement support and served conservative goals." If the "conservative" tag is accurate, why criticize anyone for using it? And why is his CNS so afraid of it?

(That July 26 CNS story, by the way, doesn't call Judicial Watch "conservative" either; it gets tagged as "the legal group that's made a name for itself by filing numerous lawsuits against the nation's leaders.")

Let's conclude this section, with a final example - also from Krepel - about WorldNutDaily:

A big book in the conservative world last year was "Mobocracy" by Matthew Robinson. According to the promotional copy, Robinson's book "reveals how our country's democratic process has been corrupted by the mob rule of an ill-informed electorate whose opinions are trumpeted at the expense of thoughtful reporting" and "coverage of many of the most divisive issues ... is manipulated by polling that too often seeks to further an agenda, not measure opinion."

WorldNetDaily, in particular, liked this book. Not only is "Mobocracy" available in its online store, WND leader Joseph Farah contributed a quote for the book's cover -- "Finally, someone has said what needed to be said—persuasively and passionately—about our cultural obsession with polls. Matt Robinson's insight and observations are worthy of debate and reflection." And Robinson penned a commentary piece for WND shortly after the book's release filled with conservative buzzwords like "liberal media" and "self-important Metroliner elite" and lamenting that "it's no coincidence that cynicism has grown in direct proportion to the growth of government and crusading left-wing journalists and their self-ratifying polls."

As you may have figured out by now, "Mobocracy" is not exactly an objective look at the issue. The only "agenda" allegedly furthered by manipulative polling Robinson cares about is the "liberal" one, though the promotional copy is careful not to stipulate that. Robinson is, after all, an adjunct scholar at the conservative Claremont Institute (one recent article there is appalled that anyone could possibly like the Eminem movie "8 Mile") as well as a former editor at the conservative journal Human Events. And Robinson's bio proudly notes that "his stories have been featured on Fox News, The Rush Limbaugh Show and CBN."

So, with such corporate support of this book and Farah's own words of praise for the ideas it contains, it would be logical to presume that WorldNetDaily would never stoop to use such despicable tactics on its own, right?

Wrong.

WND found a pollster who puts out the kind of polls it likes. Scott Rasmussen is a co-founder of the cable sports network ESPN turned pollster who (probably more important to folks like WND) is also author of a book called "The GOP Generation," which "explains underlying issues, trends, and other factors moving the nation to a lasting Republican majority." He has a deal with WND to promote his poll results there.

In addition to plugging his TV appearances, WND has written regularly about Rasmussen's surveys. Some recent findings:

  • "With under two years to go before the next major election," President Bush holds "double-digit leads over five Democratic contenders for his job." Even Rasmussen himself ought to admit the practical value of this poll is basically nil.
  • "72 percent of Americans plan to pray to ring in 2003, while just 45 percent expect to drink an alcoholic beverage."
  • "(F)ully 47 percent of those surveyed believe liberals are treated more fairly in the press" compared to "only 25 percent" who think there is a conservative media bias.

And then there's the obligatory fawning Jon Dougherty story on Rasmussen, noting that an "independent" review called Rasmussen's polling the most accurate.

Rasmussen also wrote columns for WND during and after the 2000 election -- and he said what WND readers wanted to hear. In an Nov. 1., 2000, piece he pondered why reporters called the 2000 presidential election too close to call when "all tracking polls show George Bush ahead by at least one point." One answer he came up with: "Many in the media seem to be in a state of denial. It could be that they expected Gore to win and just can't quite come to grips with data challenging their basic assessment." He also predicted that "The geography of this year's race is such that polls will close in most major "toss up" states by 8 p.m. (Eastern). ... By that point in time, it is likely that George W. Bush will have picked up the 39 electoral votes from toss-up states that he needs to win the presidency." (A poll Rasmussen took in the middle of the post-election turmoil claimed that "nearly half of Americans believe the Democratic Party is most responsible for voter fraud.")

In another article, though, he does correctly point out that "the biggest problem with Internet polls is the fact that participants are self-selected," but that hasn't kept WND from reporting on them, as it did most recently during its mostly self-generated Patty Murray controversy.

WorldNetDaily also cherry-picks polls from other sources whose results cater to its audience, as ConWebWatch has previously noted. One recent red-meat poll: "A new study finds Democrats are more anti-Semitic than Republicans."

WND's intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy never ceases to amaze. Skewed reporting of polls that favor its own biases runs rampant even as it frowns on allegedly skewed reporting of polls by others whose results disagree with its biases.

Either Farah didn't bother reading the book he contributed a blurb to -- or he read it all too well, using it as a roadmap to create his own little "mobocracy."

One could fill pages documenting the trademark hypocrisy of the Right, but one does have other things to do, unfortunately.

Bottom line? With most right-wing media critics, the oozing hypocrisy can fill a bottomless pit (so to speak), showing again and again why their charges of "liberal media" bias lack any credibility whatsoever.

A piece of advice to the "mainstream media". Before you "swallow" the claims of these critics, beware of clowns bearing enormous amounts of garbage.

eriposte :: 7:46 AM :: Comments (6) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!