Monday, September 22, 2008

Deconstructing Bias or How To Think For Yourself

It has come to my attention in the last few days that a few of my liberal friends and readers misinterpret the title of this blog. Rest assured that while I offer my opinion which admittedly is with conservative bias (hence the title), I also offer up citations for the reader to follow up on and draw their own conclusions.

It's important to understand, when I started this blog about a year ago, it was because I was inspired by a friend after a discussion about my growing concern for the lack of public interest in what was happening in this country. In choosing a name I considered how most writers present themselves, and decided to take a fresh new approach, I'd tell the truth. Just put it out there, I am a conservative, therefore everything I write will probably reflect that stance. I saw this as an opportunity to be honest, something I wish those in the media would try occassionally.

The "With Bias" title is ironically amusing to me and I'm sorry if you don't get the joke. Allow me to explain. As I have stated previously I have been a republican since I first saw Ronald Reagan, and I've been a news junkie almost as long. In college I spent many an hour watching 24 hour coverage of whatever the news of the day. During the raid on the branch dividian complex, I barely made it to classes flipping back and forth between CNN and MSNBC. While working at my first real job I took lunch breaks to watch the Clinton deposition hearings. I know I'm kind of a freak, I'm okay with that.

It wasn't until after 9/11 that I started to really notice a difference in the news coverage. I had primarily been a CNN or MSNBC viewer, but during the coverage of 9/11 I began introducing FoxNews into the rotation. I found myself drawn to the coverage on FoxNews, because they seemed to be on our side, and when I say our side I mean the American People, not Republicans. What I realized in watching them report stories side by side, is that they all three would cover the exact same story, but depending on the verbiage, tone or editing of the segment conveyed entirely different messages. When FoxNews presented an issue for discussion, they presented both positions. It was at this time I realized that Republicans have spokespeople too, and apparently a significant number of congressional members as well! (Who knew?) Because when you're watching any of the aforementioned 'news' reports with discussion panels, if they have a conservative voice at all it's either someone who voted republican once by mistake or a complete nut job.

As I became more committed to FoxNews as my television source for news, the outcry from the left and their gunslingers the mainstream media became louder. This was when it started to become more clear to me. The goal was to silence the one channel that dared to offer both sides of the story and allow the viewer to decide what to think about it. Bernard Goldberg blew the lid off the liberal infiltration of the mainstream media with the release of his 2001 book, Bias: A CBS Insider exposes how news media distorts the news. Goldberg was probably seen as traitor to many as he worked for CBS for over 20 years, but he brought light to the dark side of the headline business. One of his more memorable chapters discussed the fluctuating number of stories on the homeless population depending on who was in the White House, not on how many actual homeless people there were.

The concept of Liberal Bias while new to many is all too familiar too those of us on the right. We've watched for years as our candidates and elected officials have been subjected to assaults on their character and intelligence. Don't get me wrong it is always appropriate to ask a public official his or her views on the issues, that is something of which I like to see more. What is not appropriate is framing or editing the questions, segments or articles in a manor that reflect the "journalists" own personal opinions.

A strange phenomenon occurs when Republicans talk on mainstream media outlets, they never finish a sentence. Weird I know. This happened most recently John McCain when a half sentence showed up on every news outlet, comedy routine and Obama ad, "the fundamentals of our economy are strong", McCain was quoted as saying, his detractors took this as McCain is out of touch, but ignored the second half of the statement "but these are challenging times". In this political season I'm not surprised that the Obama camp jumped on this chance to gain ground, but the media has no excuse.

According to the Center for Media and Public Affairs the average sound bite in 1968 was 42.3 seconds, now its down to almost 8 seconds. If we're only hearing an average of 8 seconds from a candidate on any given topic, how are we to make a good decision? Not to worry, the media will tell you what to think. You see studies done by the center have also found that more time is dedicated to commenators discussing the candidates rather than giving more time to the candidates themselves. Here's something to think about while you watch this year's election coverage, according to another study done by the Center, during the 2004 Election coverage John Kerry received 60% positive comments or reports, while George W. Bush received over 60% negative coverage across all major networks. Ask yourself when was the last time you heard something positive about McCain on a major network? For a real brain teaser try that one with Sarah Palin.

In this election cycle bias came up first during the primaries but for the first time that I can remember it wasn't a republican getting the 'works'. Hillary Clinton's camp complained of unfair treatment during the debates, and demanded apologies from MSNBC over inflammatory comments made on air by one of their anchors. You can imagine my confusion when they ended up suspending two of their anchors, as I had never heard of such a thing these people had called Bush every name in the book, but his Christian name and nothing. Say something about "pimpin out Chelsea" and pack your bags.

It was also during the primary that SNL took it's famous swipe at CNN for their moderation of the debates between Clinton and Obama. The mock host offering Obama a pillow while grilling Hillary on tough topics. It may have been the first time in my life I felt bad for Hillary Clinton, those who had worshipped her, traded up for a bigger prize putting Obama in the White House. This was also about the time that the 'anchors' at MSNBC started getting 'chills up their legs' and uncontrollable giddiness at the mention of Obama's name. It wasn't until the melt down during the RNC convention that MSNBC was forced to take Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann's anchor title away. Seeing this shift in public tolerance for openly liberal bias, CNN is now making a run to the middle adding new screen icons "No Bias, No Bull" and I've actually heard them use the word liberal without cracking a smile. Ironically it's now CNN accusing SNL of Liberal Bias in their recent skits involving John McCain and Sarah Palin.

While I've focused primarily on television this bias can be found in all forms of media. From the pages of fading newspapers to the world wide web. Talk radio offers the last bastion of hope for conservative thinking people in this country. Many democrats see these dissenters as a threat and are attempting to silence them with a return to the fairness doctrine. A regulation specifically designed to eliminate the competition in the market place of ideas. This is considered fair to the left.

The liberal bias I'm talking about surrounds you everyday, not just in the news but in entertainment as well. The next time you're in line at the grocery store look at the magazines. Look not only at the sheer volume of covers dedicated to Barrack Obama, his family or his wife, but also the glowing headlines that accompany the articles. Compare that to the tabloid coverage of John McCain and Sarah Palin on the same shelves. So while my blog may be "With Bias" I am forthcoming with that information, many of the "news" sources should be so truthful. If they came right out and said "I'm in the tank for Democrats" then continued on with the report, at least you'd know they were being honest.