R.I.P

By: Joe Oglesby

Generally, when people make comments about the left wing media bias these comments are dismissed or brushed over. People laugh at and insult commentators such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh when they speak about the conspiracy in the media. Yet when an “anchor” such as Jon Stewart berates the right in his news coverage it is thought of as the truth being presented in a light-hearted manner. Sean Hannity has said it best on many occasions on his radio show and on television that we will look back at 2008 as the year journalism died.

It is not just recently that the media has been behind Barack Obama. During the primaries Hillary Clinton was also attacked by the media. Hillary was attacked relentlessly while Obama received a free pass by the major networks, excluding Fox. On CNN prior to the Texas and Ohio primaries Jack Cafferty portrays Hillary as the evil politician by proceeding to read off a laundry list of scandals Hillary was involved with; he concludes the list by stating “to name a few.” A “few” would have been two or three not the seven that he rattled off.

Hillary Clinton’s former campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson appeared on Hannity and Colmes on Fox News to discuss media bias. Wolfson who had complained about unfair coverage by the media now defends the media while Sean Hannity points out the hypocrisy shown by the media in the coverage of the two candidates. During Obama’s trip to Europe all three major news network anchors followed Obama; McCain has never been followed by the media in the same fashion.

This obvious bias is not just constrained to the television however. After Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s VP pick US Magazine released a cover story on her. The front page reads “John McCain’s Vice President Sarah Palin Babies, Lies, and Scandals.” This publication being a gossip magazine wouldn’t really be a problem, expect that another cover story of theirs about the Obamas portrayed them in a completely different light. The cover for this issue reads “Michele Obama Why Barack Loves Her.” US Magazine is not alone in the literary love fest. The Atlantic Monthly recently had a photo shoot for a story on John McCain. The pictures speak for themselves. The actions taken by the Atlantic Monthly are not excused by them making an apology. The Atlantic Monthly should have upon seeing the pictures known that they would need to reshoot the senator for a fair portrayal.

Studies have been done on media bias including a study out of UCLA. Keith Olberman has admitted the media is in the tank for Obama. Yet in the face of all this evidence those who claim media bias towards the left are still ridiculed. O’Reily may be the number one show on cable television. And Rush Limbaugh’s commentary does command the radio waves, but these two represent a whispered truth that magazines, periodicals, newspapers and the television networks refuse to cover. May journalism rest in peace.

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2 Comments

Filed under McCain, Media, Obama

2 responses to “R.I.P

  1. Tony Robinson

    Joe–thanks for the energetic, informative and challenging post. Though no comments were posted, I hope students follow some of these links and think over your argument. I did follow the ucla study link and it has some interesting findings-apparently its one of few serious, long-term studies of media bias, and it finds a liberal tilt. I question the rather strange methodology, however. For each media outlet, the study tracked the number of times it referred to different think tank groups or advocacy orgs. If the kinds of think tanks it cited were similar to a member of congress, the media was automatically given the same ideology score as that member of congress. I find that method suspect, for various reasons. Just citing an advocacy agency does not mean your article is biased for or against that agency. Furthermore, the report found that the media was more likely to cite think tank orgs that are more likely to be liberal in their leanings–but is that because the media is biased, or because the universe of think tanks is more heavily liberal than conservative, and because respected think tanks and college wonk policy groups definitely tend more often to be liberal than conservative. Citing respected policy groups that tend to be liberal doesn’t mean the media outlet necessary leans liberal.

    That method would be like reviewing the business coverage and seeing how many times the reporters cited business officials, CEOs, stock brokers and the like. These people tend to be republican, and they tend to be heavily cited in the business section fo the paper. But that doesn’t mean the paper has a conservative, pro-business bias–just because it cites them a lot. It just means that these people tend to be the most informed and most likely to have relevant quotes on the matters at hand…’

    I would prefer an actual content analysis of the coverage. Read and watch the coverage and rate it as liberal or conservative–rather than simply counting up references to think tanks.

    In general I am suspicious of claims that “the media” is liberal or conservative. “The media” is a vast and diverse world, with all sorts of info out there. I just don’t think that it can be characterized as overall one way or the other. There is plenty of diversity for people.

    I do think that respectable journalism has declined in this era of political shock-jock radio (Limbaugh being the trendsetter in this field), politicized news anchors/commentators, etc. But would you be willing to go back to the “Fairness Doctrine,” which used to require the news to be more neutral and give more equal time to a diversity of opinions?

    Tony

  2. Stephen Noriega

    I find it somewhat humorous that people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh even talk about the death of journalism when they are helping to kill it. I remember when the media fell in love with another presidential candidate. His name was Ronald Reagan. I was there when he rose to prominence and I remember people on television being “in the bag” for him too. Of course, the media is like that guy who can never sustain a healthy relationship. The media will sour on Obama at times. It will look for flaws, scandals and mistakes, especially if ratings are involved.

    I agree with Dr. Robinson. The media is diverse and anyone can get what they want through their remote control. If you want Leftist coverage, you can go to Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. If you want Rightist, Sean Hannity or Rush fills that prescription. If you are afraid of illegal immigrants stealing your psychiatric medications, Lou Dobbs is on every afternoon.

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