OK, so yesterday there was this opinion piece in the New York Times featuring a Republican whining, as usual, about how the US media has a liberal bias. His argument is that newspapers have given more positive coverage to Obama and that those newspapers which endorse candidates have endorsed Obama by an overwhelming margin. I’ve got just a few things to say about this “liberal bias” bullshit and I will try to be as succinct as possible.
1. “Balanced” news coverage does not mean taking the sum total of every crazy thing that everybody believes and finding the center point. The non-opinion pages of the news are supposed to report facts. Do they always? No. But if the facts tend to fall to the left of your nutjob opinions, what does that tell you? This reminds me of the argument that we have to teach creationism in school to give kids a “balanced” perspective. Come on. If I persuade a few people that the moon is made of cheese and the earth is flat do they have to teach that in school too, in order to be balanced? If I believe that letting the Bush tax cuts (which have contributed to our enormous deficit) expire is socialism, does the media have to report that like it’s news?
2. The mainstream media is far from left-wing. My opinions are left-wing by American standards and I have to listen to Amy Goodman and read The Huffington Post in order to find some commentary that I can agree with more or less without reservation. I find the New York Times can be centrist to a fault.
3. Maybe the problem lies in the fact that the media doesn’t really foreground the issues anymore. Instead of saying, “here’s Obama’s tax plan, here’s McCain’s tax plan, you decide”, the media reports on what the candidates were wearing and how many people were at the last rally and which commentator on the competing network said something mean about one of the candidates and don’t even get me started on Joe the Freaking Plumber. It’s not news, it’s meta-news, and it is a huge waste of time and resources.
Our copy of this week’s issue of The Economist arrived today. The Economist is edited by a bunch of people who are hardcore free market capitalists. I love The Economist even though I believe in high taxes and big government spending and social programs. Why? Because they are, on the whole, really good at reporting the facts and they don’t let their ideology cloud their judgement on everything. Sure, even they can fall prey to hyperbole, like the article a couple weeks ago that stated that “Marx’s ideas went on to enslave half of humankind”. (Ideas don’t enslave people, people enslave people.) My point is that you can see that The Economist is not a liberal rag (in the American sense of the word liberal). So here’s the cover of this week’s Economist:
So what will the Republicans say to that? That The Economist has gone communist?