Friday, September 19, 2008

U.S. News Media: 1776 - 2008

Listening to Conservatives bemoan about the "bias in the media" has grown as common place in today's society as hearing Liberals decry the actions of the Bush Administration, or declare that their President is an idiot. Yet, one only needs to be paying attention to current events to realize that Conservatives cries of bias are not baseless. Conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity, has often referred to the death of the U.S. news media in 2008, and I believe he may be right.

In a country were the media is more free to print or say what they want than the common citizen, the U.S. media has begun to abuse their privilige, and are beginning to overtly use their power to forward a political agenda the half of America does not agree with. This is no surprise, when you look at a Gallup poll conducted in 2006, where over 80% of reporters polled said they were financial contributers and members of the Democratic Party.

The 2008 Presidential Campaign has, if anything, been very exposing to the bias the liberal media has often tried to hide, and often ouright denied. When Saturday Night Live is parodying the cult up coverage of Sen. Barak Obama, and showing reporters as stalkers and psychofants of the Illinois Senator, we have a real problem. A little more solid evidence is a Rassmuesen poll conducted last week that showed 73% of the American people believed that the political news coverage favored Obama, and Media Matters said that the number of reports of the Obama campaign outnumbered the McCain Campaign 2 : 1. The bias towards Sen. Obama has been so great, and the public outcry so loud that MSNBC was forced to remove their veteran political news commentator, Chris Matthews, from further direct coverage of the campaigns because of his inability to contain his political motivations.

For many Americans, watching the news has become too nausiating to sustain, and they have chosen to remain either uninformed or limit their news to sources they know to be credible; however, this is proving to be harder to do as the bias towards Obama becomes more brazen. Even the once respected Charlie Gibson of ABC News has fallen victim to his own bias when he unfortunately chose to take on the task of "grand inquisitor" of Governor Sara Palin, who is seeking the Republican Vice Presidency.I believe very strongly that if media icons such as: Edward R. Murrow or even the very partisan Walter Kronkite would disapprove of the current state of our nation's news media. The news media is to be an unbias relayer of the news, not an attack wing of a political party or ideology.

In a free society we are rightfully limited to the regulations we are able to put on our media, because we believe in the freedom of speech, but in a free market society we do have a recourse to such abuse of the freedom of press, and that is turning the channel or walking past the news stand and not buying a paper. In a free society with free markets such overt bias is not a sound business move, and if continued could lead to the ruin of many media outlets' reputation and bottom line. Yet, many who benefit from this bias wish to use stifling measures (i.e. the Fairness Act) to prevent coverage that is less beneficial, but more popular. (That is a topic for another column.)

My dear reader, do what many of us "bitter" Americans do and turn the dial, and if you still don't like what you see or hear, then turn the whole thing off and find something that lives up to the true journalistic ethics that should be predominate in our media. Boycott is not the answer, but taking your business elsewhere is. This is the only way we will ever see the resurection of legitimate news coverage.