I’ve been meaning to comment on the whole ‘the media is biased’ line for some time now. Both liberals and conservatives adamantly maintain that the media is inherently biased towards the other side. Liberals point to Fox News, while conservatives point to MSNBC and CNN as proof that the Main Stream Media skews reality to favor their narrative.
The truth is, the MSM isn’t biased towards either side – or anything in between.
Media conglomerates in America are doing one thing: Selling you products through news. There are different markets that have different tastes, and Fox News and MSNBC simply cater to them with mouthpieces that speak directly to their demographic. After the War in Iraq and George Bush became unpopular, MSNBC hired Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow to capture the anti war segment (no offense to either of them – but they’d most likely admit as much). A good 25% of the population simply hate reading or thinking rationally, so Fox hired Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin to feed into their anger while selling them lawnmowers and diet Coke at the same time.
The one thing they aren’t giving us is news. Why? Because real news doesn’t sell.
Real news would tell you what was going on with the subprime mortgage crisis across poor neighborhoods throughout the country. Real news would tell you just how devastating the lack of health insurance is to the 47 million Americans who lack it. Real news would be reporting on what Iraqis and Afghanis think of the US troops occupying their countries. Real news wouldn’t need to be done by good looking sorority sisters with perfect smiles and permed hair. It would be done by real journalists wading in to real stories, unafraid to get their hands dirty.
Instead, we get Glenn Beck drawing diagrams about Maoist plots to take over America, and Chris Matthews honing his debating skills against party hacks.
The media in America is biased towards America. And within that, it sometimes swings to the Right, and sometimes to the Left. But people don’t like being told how shitty their country is behaving, so the MSM simply ignores it and focuses on a spectrum of debate so narrow, it’s hard for an outsider to see any substantial differences.
The conservative and liberal media may disagree on whether the Iraq war was a good idea or not, but neither would for one second contemplate the idea that America had committed a grievous crime against another nation.
The conservative and liberal media may disagree on the extent to which the US should support Israeli violence against the Palestinians, but heaven forbid either acknowledge that they were actual crimes.
The conservative and liberal media may disagree on the extent to which Iran is viewed as a threat to the United States, but neither would question the orthodoxy that Iran should be a sworn enemy.
The MSM operates under a series of assumptions that must never be challenged: That America is the greatest country on the planet, that Israel is an ally and can do no wrong, that socialism is un American, and that whoever the government declares an enemy must be.
And for that reason, debate in America will continue to be a vicious cycle of name calling and point scoring, while nothing substantial is ever discussed. While the media focuses on the minor differences of the parties corporate health care plans (do we give the insurance companies complete control, or just most of it?), thousands of Americans will die. While Chris Matthews debates Robert Gibbs as to whether Democrats are alienating the center, more money is being spent on wars in countries most people couldn’t place on a map.
If the MSM provided us with real news, the war in Iraq may never had happened, and the entire economy may not have collapsed. But they didn’t, and while MSNBC an Fox are busy shouting at each other, the rest of us are stuck picking up the pieces.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.