Saturday, November 13, 2010

Trust No Media

Fox-o-Phobia - Bill O'Reilly - Townhall Conservative

Some nominal readers of my Blog or casual acquaintances assume that I must get all my information from Fox news. For your average liberal or left leaning moderate it is a pretty simple sort of equation; conservatism is ill-informed, people with conservative leaning views are being fed their shallow misconceptions by Fox News and talk radio, if they would expose themselves to REAL news and information, if the conservative's "problem" is simple misinformation ... assuming that their problem isn't the also prevalent liberally viewed conservative malady of low intellect.

Actually, my Fox News quota would rarely hit an hour a week, and my talk radio quota is zero unless I travel through AM radio country (areas with poor NPR or classic rock FM coverage!) on some rare occasions. Being busy, my standard media diet is short and simple:
  1. A scan of the CNN page on the web to see what the top stories are and to make sure the other world isn't coming to an end today or something. Be a shame to do a bunch of wasted e-mail work if the end was that near.
  2. NPR while driving around on my minimal short trips of the day -- to the office, to the health club, etc. Somewhat a "random sample", but again I tend to hear a top of the hour news show for some local MN flavor, plus the lefts view of reality.
  3. Real Clear Politics. A sampling of the hot opinions of the day, left and right -- I do my best to read 50/50.
  4. Powerline if I get a chance -- the Blog that blew the lid off from Rathergate, based out of the Twin Cities, just up the road. 
  5. A scan of the local paper and Op Ed page for a local flavor
  6. RARELY a little news channel surfing of Fox, CNN, MSNBC in the evening
Here is Bill's offending quote from Milbank;
"Immediately after the votes were counted, the incoming fire began. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that Fox News held "a victory party" for Republicans on the air. Milbank then stated: "To be fair and balanced, Fox brought in a nominal Democrat, pollster Doug Schoen."
Not so bad -- completely untrue or course, how about Juan Williams? Geraldine Ferraro? Mara Liason? ...  What is deeper however is what I hear from a lot of youth and the left "Oh Faux News, they just ...". Normally they can't think of ANY specific examples of bias, they just KNOW that Fox is extreme. My take is that it IS "extreme", but only in the sense that it is an "outlier" from the  NYT, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC or NPR, it is just that of the widespread media, it is the ONLY media voice that considers conservative opinion to be anything more than some malady of low intellect or failed study. THAT is what makes it "extreme", certainly not the level of it's bias -- in fact, it always presents the liberal opinion as well, it just doesn't present it without exploring potential problems or arguments against that opinion.

 What is effective in shaping the opinion of the many is the drumbeat -- the steady onslaught of standard message, often very easily and very demonstrably false as it is in this case, but never ending -- fake proof after fake proof is mixed with the much rarer example of a real case of conservative bias on Fox ( I DO admit they have a bias ... as do I, and as does every other person and media outlet), and the eventual effect is the desired across a broad set of Americans. They are polarized against whatever news is reported by Fox -- for them, Fox has been successfully demonized, marginalized and trivialized so that even the mention of any person that would be willing to appear there is met with approbation Ultimately, that is true bias, and it's counterpart prejudice. Whatever the message, it is lost in the attack on the source.

The sad state of affairs is that the left in this country is afraid enough that they seek to remove thought alternatives and a freedom of speech beyond just the freedom to agree with their view.

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