By Geoff Metcalf
September 16, 2009
Self Inflicted wounds
The latest Pew Research surveys indicate that Americans’ views of media bias and independence now match previous lows. It is a self inflicted wound and not big surprise.
”Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate.”
Several years ago I interviewed Bernie Goldberg after his book ‘Bias’ was released. Goldberg underscored the bias point when he told me, “…they don't even know what liberal bias is. Here's the problem: What we call liberal bias is a cultural bias.”
I have been grousing for decades that “it is not a question of WHO is right or wrong but WHAT is right or wrong that counts…” Some see that bromide as axiomatic; others question the foundation for establishing “what is right” as being too subjective. Subjectivity is the tragic flaw in otherwise empirical analysis.
Goldberg recounted a conversation he had with the president of CBS news, Andrew Heyward. Heyward said, "Look Bernie, of course there's a liberal bias in the news. All the networks tilt left." Then he said one other thing: "If you repeat any of this, I'll deny it."
David Limbaugh recently observed, “the mainstream media have finally been reduced to sputtering incoherence, as they've observed the un-deification of their anointed messiah and experienced firsthand their own diminishing relevance.” However, media malfeasance is more than just the reality check of a begrudging epiphany. The wounds suffered by the main stream media are all self inflicted.
Once upon a time the major media sins were largely sins of omission. Now the standards have been so bastardized and hyperbolized that blatant partisan spin is no longer just for the venue of the editorial pages.
The fourth estate is no longer functioning as an equalizer but has turned into partisan co-co-conspirators. Listen, leadership is critical in matters of world affairs. Symbolism and bully pulpit posturing is also significant. The media is supposed to be our watch dog keeping the players kinda/sorta honest. It is a big deal that mere hours after President Obama apologized to Europeans, and called America "arrogant" and "dismissive," he actually paid fealty to the Saudi King Abdullah by bowing to him in London. His bow that wasn’t really (but really was/no not really/yes it was/no/oh yeah for sure) a bow to the Saudi king really highlights his naiveté (way worse than puking in a foreign leaders lap). Yeah, it was a bow, protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Who are you gonna believe the spin machine or your own eyes?
The mainstream media has been derelict in their role of allowing you to even see the event to judge for yourself (apparently hoping by ignoring it, the mega-‘whoops’ will fade away) but their silence on gaffs has been deafening.
Kenneth Walsh noted in US.News&World Report “…reality is overtaking charisma. Obama's positive aura is dissipating under the relentless pressure to get results and make compromises.” The Obama challenge is exacerbated by a mantle of arrogance and myopia that threatens everything.
David Limbaugh says, “The MSM are engaging in a colossal temper tantrum over their lost news monopoly — a monopoly they forfeited through their bias, arrogance, and self-imposed insulation.” But is both more and less than that.
The plethora of inconsistencies, deceptions and flat out bold faced lies deserve main stream attention. It is the biggies refusal to ask potentially embarrassing questions of this administration that continues to erode their once upon a time dubious credibility.
Sunlight remains the best disinfection. However, just to take one of the myriad unchallenged issues, the main stream has done a lousy job covering (uncovering, not covering) please consider the controversy about the Obama birth certificate.
Why spend millions of dollars and man hours to obfuscate something that could and should be fully revealed? Hiding stuff (college records, term papers, etc.) only fuels the fires of distrust. Where was Obama born, when, who is or isn’t lying? Once upon a time, ’60-minutes’ would have been on that story like white on rice. We would have been subjected to a series of interviews with Kenyan doctors, Hawaiian doctors, college professors, roommates, friends, foes, relatives and former school chums.
For a sure a bunch of people are not telling the truth about our president’s birth. Come on, who is lying and who is not? Enquiring minds want to know… I don’t believe Obama is not an American citizen. However, I do believe there is ‘something’ he needs hidden…and the press should dig in that hole.
The Washington Post wrote, “The resignation of White House environmental adviser Van Jones has revealed a lapse in the administration's vetting procedures that, nearly eight months into his tenure…”
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Limbaugh rightly noted, hey, “It's not Obama who didn't vet Jones, but the MSM who have never vetted Obama.” And therein lays the tragic flaw that continues still to erode the public trust in the fourth estate.