Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Bad Air Day

Yesterday was not a banner day for the media. AP ran an article chronicling Islamic terrorism over the past few years and omitted any acts by Palestinians against Israelis. The BBC's Middle East reporting was so biased (they are pro-terror) that it was forced to hire a "Middle East Policeman" to serve as the grown up in the room. A writer for the SF Chronicle was forced to make a mea culpa. He had accused the Bush administration of covering up deaths in Iraq because you never hear reports of soldiers dying later from their wounds. His scoop was foiled when it turns out nearly all survive due to wonderful and heroic medical attention. More Al Jazeera reporters were arrested today after being linked with al Qaeda. Not bad for one 24 hour news cycle.

Actually, its been a tough year for the mainstream media. Any one remember the lengths CNN went through to keep their Baghdad bureau open? Think the same thing just might be happening in Havana? Reuters still doesn't use the word "terrorist" to describe... terrorists. An internal memo proclaimed "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". How about the BBC's "sexed up" story about "sexed up" British intelligence? Jason Blair?

Not too long ago these stories would have quickly died provided they ever saw the light of day in the first place. Instead, we saw the resignation of the Editor of the NY Times and Blair government largely absolved in London with blame pinned squarely on the BBC. The difference today is the rise of the internet, talk radio and cable television.

Self-criticism and self-examination seems to be the last thing mainstream investigative journalists investigate. Think about it - have you ever read a newspaper article critical of another newspaper? The print media reviews film and television entertainment - ever read a review of Network news? Ever heard ABC, NBC or CBS do a negative report on the print media? Of course not because they all think the same.

Most people can honestly admit that the San Francisco Chronicle is a liberal rag. Fewer realize that the rest of the mainstream media is editorially indistinguishable from the Chron. On issue after issue ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Reuters, AP, NY Times, Boston Globe, Sacramento Bee, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, Washington Post, San Diego Tribune, Miami Herald, Seattle Times, Dallas/Ft Worth Star, St. Louis Dispatch and the Berkeley Reporter are identical.

Issue after issue? How about: Death penalty, abortion, racial preferences, gay rights, taxes, immigration, Iraqi war, education, international relations, law, religion and the environment. Minor details.

Most people don't realize that in much of Europe the press is openly biased. In England, the Telegraph is conservative, the Mirror is liberal. France's Le Monde is left, Le Figaro is right. The readers understand they are receiving opinion in their news and form their own opinions accordingly.

But in America, the media thinks they are "objective". Most people don't realize what they are receiving has been put through at least two filters. One filter picks what is "news" and what is not and the next filter is how to present what they themselves have already chosen to report. With these realities, impartiality is not possible from any perspective.

That claim of objectivity is the most misleading of all.


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