#5 - The Mainstream Media
"The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias" - Andrew Marr, the Daily Mail, Oct 21st, 2006.
"Nothing we recommend should be seen as endorsing a retreat from tough-minded reporting of abuses of power by public or private institutions. In part because the Times' editorial page is clearly liberal, the news pages do need to make more effort not to seem monolithic" - 2004 committee report to New York Times executive editor Bill Keller
In a 2006 interview between talk radio host, Hugh Hewitt, and the liberal political director of ABC News and former Washington Post senior editor, Mark Halperin, the following exchange took place:
HH: But the old media is overwhelmingly liberal, correct, Mark Halperin?
MH: Correct, as we say in the book.
HH: And so everyone that you work with, or 95% of people you work with, are old liberals.
MH: I don’t know if it’s 95%, and unfortunately, they’re not all old. There are a lot of young liberals here, too. But it certainly, there are enough in the old media, not just in ABC, but in old media generally, that it tilts the coverage quite frequently, in many issues, in a liberal direction, which is completely improper. And it goes from the big and major like CBS’ outrageous story about President Bush’s draft record right before the 2004 election, to the insidious and small use of language describing Nancy Pelosi’s liberal policies and ideas different than they would Newt Gingrich’s conservative ones.
HH: And that’s what I’m getting at. Inside of ABC News political division, how many people work with you, Mark Halperin, in that division?
MH: You know, it’s hard to quantify it, because you’ve got people involved in a political year like this one, or during a presidential race, you’ve got hundreds of people who are touching our political coverage. There aren’t very many people, just a handful of us, are full-time political reporters.
HH: But with editorial control, a producer, an editor…
MH: It’s literally hundreds…
MH: Because again, you’ve got people on Good Morning America, people on World News Tonight, or World News, we call it now. So literally hundreds.
HH: Of those hundreds, what percentage do you think fairly, honestly, are liberal, and would vote Democratic if they voted?
MH: The same as in almost every old media organization I know, which is well over 70%.
HH: Isn’t it…Thomas Edsall, in an interview that I know you read, because you wrote me about it, he said 95…
MH: I think 95’s well overstated…
HH: He said 15-25:1 in the Washington Post, liberal to conservative. Do you think that’s fair?
MH: Absolutely. And again, I mean, look. John and I work for old media organizations. We write things in the book that most people in old media won’t admit. But we’re proud of our organizations, but I don’t want to say it’s singular to ABC. It’s in all these…it’s an endemic problem. And again, it’s the reason why for forty years, conservatives have rightly felt that we did not give them a fair shake.
One of the most amazing things to me is that in a free society our media can be so monopolised by one side of the political debate to the almost complete exclusion of the other. It is one of the few institutions in which leftist indoctrination at university carries through. For example, the only thing you learn from the mainstream media at the moment is that there are still bombings in Baghdad. Do we hear that, in fact, terrorist attacks are down 80%? No. Do we hear that these attacks are at the fringe of the city because the operations in the centre are proving successful? No. Our forces are at risk and we have good news but you wouldn't know it if you just read the New York Times, watched the BBC, listened to Australia's ABC or got your news from any other mainstream source. And, no, Fox News is not mainstream.
That the media is full of people that have a bias should be of little concern if the reporting is done on an objective 'what, who, where, when and why basis'. However, the modern media has become an institution that injects itself into the debate, making stories where there are none and burying those that don't fit their narrative. The fauxtography scandal, uncovered by Littlegreenfootballs, starkly demonstrates the dark depths that the mainstream media has sunk to in its one-sided reporting whenever Israel is involved.
Here's another example: contrast the scrutiny that the Scooter Libby trial for a non-event that hurt nobody with what Bill Clinton's former Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, did with classified documents while preparing for the 9/11 Commission. Libby, originally accused of revealing to the press that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent, now faces charges of providing misleading testimony after the original charges had to be dropped when it became clear that it was the State Department's Richard Armitage who had provided the original leak. The media hounded Libby out of office, accusing him of being part of a Karl Rovian plot along the way while they destroyed his career. Sandy Berger, on the other hand, was authorised by the Clinton administration's representative to make sure the 9/11 Commission got the correct classified materials. He removed damaging top secret documents and hid them behind a dumpster. Unfortunately for him he got caught because they'd become suspicious that he was removing documents, pleaded guilty to unlawfully removing and retaining classified documents, was fined $50,000, ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and was barred from access to classified material for three years. Hardly a word in the mainstream media about the Clinton favourite, Berger, but they're all over Libby who had done nothing other than have an outstanding career as a public servant. Here's a thought experiment that shouldn't be too hard to work through. How would the media have handled the Berger situation if he had have worked for a Republican President? What about this? Would Woodward and Bernstein have reported Watergate at all if it had have been a Democrat involved?
In Australia we have The Age, which used to be Melbourne's leading daily newspaper but is rapidly fading into irrelevance as it tries to become a Down Under version of the UK's far-left Guardian. It still retains its good sports section and that's all that keeps it going in what is, officially, the sporting capital of the world. We have the national broadcaster, the ABC, whose staff do not understand why they're always being accused of bias as they believe they're in the centre. If you want to look moderate, hang around with Stalinists, and that's their problem - they don't understand where the middle is. We also have the multicultural broadcaster, the publicly owned SBS, or Special Broadcasting Service, that is now referred to as the Soviet Broadcasting Service. You would be hard pressed to find a more anti-US, anti-Israel station this side of the Middle East. A few days ago SBS showed Insight:Hicks On Trial (a sympathetic view of David Hicks, our own Aussie-grown terrorist who's being held at Gitmo pending trial); The Trial of Saddam Hussein (meant to show that the US was out to get him); took a half hour break for the news; and finished off with Hot Docs: The President vs David Hicks (more what-did-he-do-wrong? nonsense).
Try finding a mainstream media organisation that hasn't bought into the Global Warming debate on the side of 'the science is settled'. Try finding one that shows Israel's defence of herself in anything other than a negative light. Try finding one that praises the US for...anything. The barrage of agenda-driven propaganda stifles debate at a time when there is so much that needs to be discussed.
For these reasons (and so much more) the Mainstream Media takes the #5 spot on my list of 10 Institutions That Ruin The World.
#6 - Education Institutions and Education Unions
#7 - Government
#8 - The Social Justice Movement
#9 - The Peace Movement
#10 - The Intelligent Design Movement, Discovery Institute