Sunday, October 31, 2010

When Bias Has Its Own Media

Bias is a normal part of human thought. It is not a good thing, but it exists because we are only human. Our viewpoints influence how we see things. And that in turn influences how we describe them. But just because bias is normal, does not mean that it is acceptable.

A doctor may like one patient better than another. That does not mean that he has the right to provide an inferior level of medical care to one patient. He may not be able to help being nicer to one patient than the other, but he may not actively mistreat a less favored patient. That is medical malpractice. Similarly a reporter who does not simply favor liberal politicians, but actively biases stories against their opponents is guilty of journalistic malpractice. He can no longer claim to be providing a public service, only serving as the mouthpiece for his ideology of choice.

Bias always exists, but journalistic bias has a tipping point at which instead of a free press, we have a propaganda press. When does that tipping point occur? Henry David Thoreau wrote that there is a certain amount of injustice in government, just as there is a certain amount of friction in operating a machine. But when "friction has its own machine", then the injustice is no longer an unfortunate byproduct, it is now the purpose of the machine. That is the case with tyrannical regimes who exist to oppress people, rather than the oppression being an unfortunate by product of the exercise of authority, as was formerly the case in the United States.

When it comes to the media, there is also a point at which "friction has its own machine". That happens when bias is no longer just injected into the reporting of a story, but when bias is the reason for the existence of a story.

It's easy to spot the difference between the two. For example, a reporter who covers a possible teacher's strike might favor the teacher's union and give more time to their grievances than to the plight of the municipal budget and the overburdened taxpayer. This is bias. On the other hand, when that same reporter begins running a series of stories about juvenile delinquency and rising crime connected to school dropout rates in order to warn taxpayers against voting down a proposed school budget-- then "bias has its own media."

The difference is that our hypothetical reporter is no longer only biasing legitimate stories, his stories are part of a narrative that exists for no other purpose than to convince readers to follow his agenda. That is acceptable on the Op Ed page, but not when it is disguised as news. And when entire newspapers, TV stations, magazines and news sites are run in this way, then there is a word for it-- propaganda.

When "Bias has its Own Media", then bias is no longer just the byproduct of journalism, or a symptom of bad reporting. It is the actual product. It is no longer a flaw in the process by which stories are reported. That process has been replaced by a new process in which positive material about liberals and negative material about conservatives is fast-tracked for a purely political agenda. In which news stories exist not to provide information about events, but to manufacture narratives in order to directly or indirectly achieve policy goals.

This is the literal definition of propaganda. The hypocritical mainstream media pretends that it's both independent and patriotic because it bashes the government when it's conservative and then boasts about its crusading independence, and then licks the government boot when it's liberal and boasts about its patriotism. This is a repulsive perversion of both words. The media is not independent, it is dependent. It is dependent on ideology and independent of the truth.

Today when the media pretends to report stories, when it's actually repeating White House talking points, then it is no longer engaged in filing stories, only in manipulating the minds of its readers. It is serving as the conduit for the narrative and agenda of a political party. This alone is not particularly groundbreaking, except for its comprehensiveness. There have always been political newspapers in American history, but they generally tended to self-identify as existing for the purposes of political agitation. And they were balanced out by other rival competitors, and by newspapers which were determined to try their hand at objective reporting, which made for a print landscape that resembled the present day blogsphere more than anything else.

However the corporate centralization of media ownership combined with the transformation of reporting into a field whose training is provided by radical academics looking to radicalize their students has created a structured left wing bias in reporting, that has since thoroughly tipped over into propaganda. And so we no longer have a free press, we have a propaganda press. We no longer have a biased media. Instead bias has its own media.

A single doctor who decided to stop treating Republicans would be a crank. And it would be easy enough to avoid him. However if the entire medical profession were taken over. If the majority of hospitals were owned by a handful of liberal corporations and doctors were trained in Med School that the public good requires letting Republicans die, rather than treating them-- you would have the same mindset in medicine that we suffer from today in journalism.

Media bias is the product of the politicization of a field to such a degree, that this politicization itself becomes the culture of the most influential segment of an entire profession. Rather than fighting for an armed overthrow, the American left sought to work from "within the system". And what that meant was infiltrating, influencing and subsequently radicalizing a country's fundamental institutions so that they would serve their agenda, rather than that of the people.

The left does not follow rules because it does not believe that democracy or a system of checks and balances or any form of rules that allows different political views to have expression is what is in the public interest. They believe that their way and only their way alone, is what is in the public interest. To see what a country run that way looks like, you could go to North Korea and try to sneak across the border. Or you could just make a much shorter trip to Washington D.C. where another Beloved Leader dictates his wishes and the mechanisms of government comply, without regard for what the people want. And if you want to see what a media run by people who think that the public good rests in convincing them to do what they are told looks like, well it's all around you right now.

I was riding in a cab to LAX when a local left wing talk radio station's message blared its motto. "Listen like you mean it." That is the motto not just of that station, but of the entire liberal media. And of their attached politicians as well. Listen like you mean it. That is exactly what they expect. A population of listeners that they will pretend to listen to, but mostly just ignore. Not people who are involved. Not owners. But listeners. Passive. Compliant. Willing to do what they are told for the greater good.

People who think that way do not believe in democracy. They do not believe in plurality. They do not believe in choice, because then people might not choose to do the right thing. Modern liberalism is inherently totalitarian. It is tied up with the belief in Government as God, in central planners and cooperative bodies (under community organizers) replacing individuals and elected officials as the key relationship in American government.

And the media's understanding of its role in such a system is to ensure that the people voluntarily participate in the cooperative bodies, and understand and comply with the instructions of the central planners to insure a positive outcome for everyone. Sure it didn't work under the USSR or China or Cuba or anywhere as a matter of fact, but as they say, "29th Time's The Charm". The future's so bright, you have to wear recycled burlap. And the Collective Compost toilet only overflows on Wednesdays.

But it is inevitable that every ideology whose goal is a political system that attempts to control people "for their own benefit" also believes that the goal of the press is to communicate the intentions of the authorities to the people so that everything flows harmoniously and smoothly with a minimum of gulags. Every time the media began launching into another explanation of why Obamacare was so great, and the only reason anyone thought otherwise was because they were ignorant brainwashed guntoting racists, you could see that same exact dynamic at work. The progressive propaganda machine ranting about reactionaries and blaming them for the lack of progress.

It could have been a newsflash from Moscow in 1929. Unfortunately it was actually a story being run in newspapers, magazines, newscasts and news sites all across America just now. And that shows the tragic degradation of the media, not simply into an organ of political advocacy, but into the lowest sewers of government propaganda.

And when journalists become whores, their government patrons treat them that way. What the media has yet to understand is that no one on the Right has as much contempt for them as their own Obama Administration, which has dispensed with such outmoded relics of journalism Presidential press conferences, access to the press or allowing reporters to interview a Supreme Court nominee. Those were reserved for the days of yore when the media at least tried to pretend that they were independent of the White House. By giving up their independence, the media also gave up the only reason why they should be taken seriously. And so instead the Obama Administration treats the press corps likely badly behaved employees who still haven't learned their place.

The paradox is that neither the Clinton or George W. Bush administrations which were at times authentically under siege by the press, showed this kind of contempt and hostility toward the press. But in 2008, the media gave up any pretense of being anything but carnival barkers for the Barry Hussein Show. And when that happened, they also gave up any credibility they might have had, not just with the Right, but with the White House. They stopped being the Fifth Estate, and became PR people who don't always know how to take orders from Rahm and Dave Axelrod.

The Obama Administration feels free to smack the press around, because by giving up their independence, the press also gave up any of the leverage they used to have. Once the media sold out everything, they have nothing left to offer anymore. As long as they are wedded to promoting socialism at any cost, the White House is the only game in town, and as long as they create the news out of White House talking points, the Obama Administration has the media right where it wants it.

By selling their birthright of objectivity for the pottage of ideology, the media gave up its power, and is now discovering that they man they gave it all up for sees them as nothing more than errand boys to carry his message to the people. By acting like the PR men for Obama, the media were reduced to just that. Bias now has its own media. And so does the White House.


LemonLimeMoon said...

Ego is a powerful thing.
Both Obama and the media share a lot of traits in common.Big egos for one.

j.c. said...

This was great Daniel, going to cross blog at been so busy working on Carly's campaign been letting my sites go south for awhile. Still ready to send you a token of appreciation for helping me, J.C.

Paul said...

The only thing the press has to do is tell the truth and tell the whole truth. Anythng else is just lying and we see it in the "right wing" media as much as we do the "left wing" media. It is all politically correct, "left" or "right". It is the fake debate between the fake politics of "conservatives" and "liberals" that prop up the parasite "two party system".

And it is all slipping away, steadily corroded by the new media of the internet and the growing sensitivity of people made more aware by a powerful flow of communications of consumers informing each other. We see struggles to prop up the old order as in the Tea Party, but they are not bound to last.

Anonymous said...

That is why people go to blogs, but which blogs are reliable?

Brits/Europeans would be angry if they knew that the EU is training its own journalists to spread its propaganda:

and if you go onto the videos check out "Ashton Called On United States of Europe" DCBannerman is correct - listen to Kathy Ashton's example in her answer, she really thinks what she is saying is something good. kate b

Keli Ata said...

Only the media would try to hijack our critical thinking skills to this extent. Sadly, they have been successful.

Fortunately for me, my college stressed and even tested the students in my program on our critical thinking skills. It was required. Learn it or don't graduate lol.

Anonymous said...

Public interest has nothing to do with it. Workability has nothing to do with it. The fact of the failure of the idea of a regulated state has nothing to do with it. It's about power - the power to rule by force; to give orders and be obeyed. That's all it has ever been about.

- Jim M

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