Bias upon Bias upon Bias
Scripps-Howard News Service 12.19.01
Of the many reviews about Bernard Goldberg's book "Bias,"
reading Janet Maslin's in The New York Times is economical because
you get the point without having to buy Mr. Goldberg's book. If
you are in a hurry, you need not read the article - merely the headline:
"A Network Veteran Bites The Hands That Feed Him."
Was there, could there have been, a similar headline when, say,
John Dean III, White House counsel to President Richard Nixon, spilled
the beans about his employer?
And so, the bias stares us in the face at first glance. It is hard
to believe that a newspaper of The New York Times's caliber fails
to realize what it is doing. And yet, it is not hard to believe.
The one-dimensional political bias has such deep roots in most of
our elite media (Ms. Maslin's terminology) that its all-pervasive
presence is natural as oxygen in the air.
The bias about "Bias" continues with a gratuitous sideswipe
against Bill O'Reilly of Fox News. Mr. O'Reilly's current successes
must irritate many, witness a conversation not long ago on NBC's
"Today" between anchor Katie Couric and actor George Clooney,
during which they wrapped every mention of O'Reilly's name in derisory
Ms. Maslin then proceeds to tell us that "Bias" needs
to be taken seriously and concedes the infrequency of labeling anyone
a "liberal." (Make that never, as demonstrated by ABC-TV
president David Westin's inability to answer my recently-published
letter in six years.) But what follows is dismemberment, one way
or the other, of every tangible example Ms. Maslin cites from Bernard
Item: "He uses data from the Center for Media and Public Affairs
to suggest that rumors of a heterosexual AIDS outbreak were greatly
exaggerated and that many of those affected caught the virus via
drug use or sex...But his argument is weakened by what he leaves
unsaid: that the condition of a person with AIDS is not improved
by blaming the victim."
Other than picking a gratuitous argument, what does "improving
the condition of a person" have to do with distorted reporting?
Item: "[His argument] is also diminished by willfully unreasonable
analogies: 'Why should the children of Jesse Jackson or Colin Powell
or Diana Ross get some kind of racial preference when they apply
to college or go out for a job, but no 'affirmative action' is given
to the child of a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant coal miner from West
Virginia?' An example that loaded is as unfair as the weighted news
stories he denounces."
Really, Ms. Maslin? It seems, preferences have created an America
exactly as ridiculous as Mr. Goldberg suggests.
Item: "The most important bias to contemplate here is the
one against serious, unglamorous news." That is Ms. Maslin's
final conclusion after reading what must be a devastating indictment
of media moguls, producers, editors and newscasters arrogating powers
never contemplated by the men who wrote the Supreme Law of our land.
Should anyone wish to look at a perfect demonstration of outrageous
bias in The New York Times itself, I recommend the December 13 editorial,
"Tearing Up the ABM Treaty." You would never suspect that
the other party to the treaty, known as the Soviet Union, was responsible
for killing tens of millions of people, enslaving half of Europe,
and pursuing America's extinction as its official policy for decades.
You would never suspect that Russia, unlike Germany, washed its
hands of all its crimes against humanity, claiming to be a victim,
and not the successor, of the Soviet Union, except where it yielded
Media bias has been deeply embedded in our society since the cataclysmic
events of the 1960s. I would like to propose that alone some equally
cataclysmic event could rid us of its plague within a reasonable
time frame. Such an event would be America's willingness to dispense
with the misnomers "left," "liberal," and "progressive,"
and identify the philosophical roots of the bias as reflecting the
socialist-communist way of thinking.
Most people I know, including most "conservatives," howl
at the suggestion, yet it would be our best panacea. I believe the
overwhelming majority of Americans, including most media persons
with a "left" bias, would change their attitudes overnight
if they realized where it originated. Most Americans detest socialism/communism
in any form, and would not wish to promote it.
As my contribution, the next column will offer an itemized list
of socialist-communist attitudes and practices that have found their
way into our daily lives.
Let the process begin!