The Mainstream Media is Liberal like Ketchup is Spicy
Most people who complain about all things “liberal” either use the term as a straw man to promote their own right-wing agenda over more progressive ideas or have no idea what liberal actually is. To be fair, there are certainly people who sincerely believe the mainstream media is liberal just as there are people who think ketchup is spicy.
The idea that the mainstream media (MSM) is liberal is a useful myth for conservatives who want to attack Democrats for being out of touch with America. While it is true that some media outlets are pro-Democrat, Democrats aren’t liberal. Democrats are middle of the road poseurs with a few liberal members who only get liberal votes because there is no viable liberal party to vote for in the United States.
When you actually know what it means to be liberal, and you examine the news, you will come to the same conclusion that Communications Research came to. The media is only seen as liberal because of the constant conservative coverage of this myth.
“In a careful 1999 study published in the academic journal Communications Research, four scholars examined the use of the "liberal media" argument and discovered a fourfold increase in the number of Americans telling pollsters that they discerned a liberal bias in their news. But a review of the media's actual ideological content, collected and coded over a twelve-year period, offered no corroboration whatever for this view. The obvious conclusion: News consumers were responding to "increasing news coverage of liberal bias media claims, which have been increasingly emanating from Republican Party candidates and officials."
In summary, just because the media isn’t marching in line spouting the rabid Fox inspired lies about the economy, the government and Obama, it doesn’t mean the MSM is liberal. If the media doesn’t focus incessantly on Obama’s birth certificate, the dependency of the poor on the government, Obama’s weakness overseas, or even mention the fact that they are liberal, then they are liberal according to most conservatives.
I have shocking news for you. The media rarely, if ever, brings up “liberal” issues such as single payer health care, minimum wage, unions, drone strikes, hydro-fracking, or other issues. And when the MSM does bring up a supposedly “liberal” issue like global warming, they make sure they have a global warming denier on for balance even though 98% of climate scientist believe human activity is changing the world’s climate. If they want to be representative, they should have 98 climate scientist talk about global warming while 2 deny it.
It is in the interests of corporations and media outlets to promote the myth of a liberal media. If everyone believes the media has a liberal bias, then criticism of conservatives and corporations can be dismissed as just another example of this bias. So if CBS (owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting Group) discusses Romney’s time a Bain capital or the forced ultrasound bills, Fox News and others chalk it up to “liberal bias.” However, when CBS criticizes Obama’s black pastor, there is no apparently bias.
There is also the myth that the MSM broadcasts the stories the public wants to hear. I like to call this the “All the News that’s Fit to Print” syndrome. The MSM is edited by the business elite in America. It’s a spokesperson for those in power.
The news editors from the MSM outlets, with oversight from the board of directors, sets the news agenda. They create the discourse by choosing what stories to present and what stories to ignore. Thus, they foment anxiety about weapons of mass destruction by presenting the Bush White House lies about it in the news, and thus a need for more news on the topic has been created. The MSM reported this news as fact and did not question what the White House reported because it satisfied their corporate agenda. Besides, who wants to hear about depressing news that military suicides now outpace combat deaths for U.S. soldiers, a story the media has been ignoring?
News about military suicides would contradict our manufactured image of our soldiers being all they can be. The military pays for airtime for their recruiting ads and news about military suicides would damage their efforts. However, talking about the dangers of North Korea, China, Iran, or other nations will fuel the public’s desire for more news about these dangers and also supports the military industrial complex and their calls for more weaponry, i.e. military contracts. News about drone attacks overseas killing civilians would also interrupt the patriotic furor for more weapons.
There is also the false idea that the MSM works independently from the corporations that own them. In truth, major corporations own the broadcast networks and squelch any criticism of corporations and capitalism that might challenge their power. The goal of corporate media outlets is to turn a profit for the parent company and their stock holders. Informing the public is just an accidental byproduct of the money making process. Upsetting people with depressing news, or news that might damage capitalism’s patriotic veneer, must be avoided.
Advertisers can have a major influence on the news we see in the newspaper and television or hear on the radio, “…many media institutions survive on advertising fees, which can lead to the media outlet being influenced by various corporate interests…Stories can end up being biased or omitted so as not to offend advertisers or owners.”
Conservatives at Fox and even so-called liberals at CNN tell us that MSNBC is the “liberal counterpoint” to conservative broadcast outlets. That just isn’t true. MSNBC is owned and rigidly watched by GE, the number one defense contractor in the U.S. GE let go of MSNBC progressives Keith Olbermann and Cenk Ungur despite decent ratings, ratings better than CNN and close to those of Fox News. Mr. Uygur, for example, was told to have more Republicans on and “be nicer” to them.
So much for the liberal bias at MSNBC.
Media concentration in growing in America, as reported by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting). In 2011, twenty news outlets controlled over 50% of our news and information, including the Internet. A few people can decide what news a majority of us will be privy to. This corporate dominated media landscape leads to less than liberal news and there is no MSM news that challenges the fundamental tenants of our democracy and economic system. Anyone or anything that never questions the status quo is certainly not liberal.