DECEMBER 10, 2001
Answering media bias
© 2001

Why does the mainstream media continue to demonstrate the left-leaning, ubiquitous prejudice that has become axiomatic?

I recently interviewed Bernie Goldberg, author of the big-buzz, sizzling book, "Bias." Bernie (who worked for CBS for 28 years) blows the whistle on the elephant in the living room that no one will talk about or even admit; the subtitle of his book is "A CBS Insider exposes how the media distort the news."

I have been itching and moaning about the mainstream media tilt to the left for over a decade. However, "Bias" is significant because it is an insider who is blowing the whistle.

I like "Bias" for a variety of reasons:

The very first column I wrote for WND was Jan. 5, 1998. I asked, "Whatever happened to morality, ethics, honor?" I started the piece by noting, "Synonyms for 'honest' are ethical, honorable, moral, trustworthy, upright and virtuous." I used that as a foundation to criticize the Clinton administration, but it is equally applicable in discussing the mainstream media.

Back in 1998 I noted that British journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard waxed poetic and remarkably insightful when he wrote, "The American elite, I am afraid to say, is almost beyond redemption. Moral relativism has set in so deeply that the gilded classes have become incapable of discerning right from wrong. Everything can be explained away, especially by journalists. Life is one great moral mush -- sophistry washed down with Chardonnay." Hooray and Bingo!

Goldberg validates Ambrose's observation with specific documented facts. CBS News President Andrew Heyward once told him: "Look, Bernie, of course there's a liberal bias in the news. All the networks tilt left. ... If you repeat any of this, I'll deny it."

I've talked about this issue with a gaggle of media players: Bob Novak, Jack Germond, Dave Barry, Reed Irvine, John Stossel, Matt Drudge, Bill O'Reilly, even Reed Hundt (former Clinton FCC Commissioner). I have asked all of them the same question (and I asked it of Bernie).

Given that nature abhors a vacuum and the malfeasance of the mainstream to report news that is fair and balanced, talk radio and the Internet (and certainly Fox News) have grown exponentially. The growth of Fox News, talk radio and the Internet is not necessarily a product of superior skill or content but more a function of providing a service not available in conventional venues.

When will the mainstream (with more organizational resources: people, equipment, technology and money) get hip and provide a product that is obviously in demand for the consumer?

Everyone so far has said the same thing. It ain't gonna happen. They're too fat, dumb and lazy and arrogant. By the way, Goldberg concurs. One hundred percent of those asked agree the Big Three networks are not going to change. They are in permanent denial.

The second column I wrote for WND was Jan. 12, 1998, "Selective reporting and the state of the nation."

I started that piece with Aubrey T. DeVera's observation: "Prejudice, which sees what it pleases, cannot see what is plain." Notwithstanding the obvious liberal bias of the mainstream media, many of us continue to wonder at what point will either embarrassment or territorial imperative compel the dominant media to return to the journalistic foundation of actually reporting Who, What, When and Where, rather than obfuscating the Why and the How, and/or committing mortal sins of omission.

Ambrose Bierce was right when he said, "Politics is the conduct of public affairs for private advantage." I had hoped and prayed that journalism had not regressed to the point where it has been reduced to reporting selective facts for private advantage. I was dreaming.

Goldberg is actually a whistleblower. Normally, the news media loves whistleblowers. However, they hate him. He says, "If I were writing about Big Tobacco or Big Oil, I would be a national hero." As it is, he is a pariah.

Goldberg and I have both spent a lot of years in media. Neither of us can understand why the Big Three don't change.

The remarkable growth of Fox News is not just a function of market fragmentation. ABC, CBS and NBC have more money, people, technology and market penetration than any of the cable wannabe threats. If or when any of the Big Three were to offer a product equal or superior to Fox News they would crush it. I'm not just talking about cosmetic token conservative presence to create the "form" of balance' I mean real balance in which both sides of an issue get equal treatment -- where (as Goldberg notes) if you are going to identify Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr as "conservative" you at least acknowledge Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden as "liberal."

This isn't brain surgery. Right now Fox News is doing it better than anyone else, and they are bad-rapped and marginalized by the effete elite.

The product of media is not what is on the air. The product (that they sell) is audience. The Big Three networks, according to Goldberg, are "hemorrhaging audience; they're hemorrhaging viewers," referring to a continual dwindling of television news watchers.

So here are the big, unanswered questions:

  • Why do the Big Three continue to allow their market share to dwindle?
  • When will they recognize that fragmentation is only part of their massive losses?
  • When will they fight their "fair and balanced" competition with not just the "form" but with "substance"?

  • The honchos of the Big Three are smart powerful men. When will they prove it?