Monday, September 28, 2009

Once again with feeling: Liberal Media!

WHAT WAS THAT? Did I just hear another snarky reference to, liberal media? Alas, it is one of those mossy idiomatic terms that is a convenient escape hatch for folks who can generally be expected to denounce, slander and/or vilify the aforementioned media that they haven't read in ages. They do so with such ease that it is useless to respond that much of the mainstream media is owned by corporate power brokers not far removed from Wall Street. The owners aren't the sort of people that you would expect to be pushing a cart on Saturday mornings at the local supermarket, if you know what I mean. And they have a way of supporting the Republican candidate.

But why limit the discussion to the print media? Take the recent study by FAIR magazine, a liberal publication that describes itself as the "media watch group" that targets the New York Times as well as any other print or broadcast voice that has slipped up on such news stories as, say, the American invasion of Iraq. ( It wasn't the only "liberal" editorial voice that servilely followed George Bush into the swamp on that story!)

FAIR reported that six of the biggest media companies (including the leftist Fox News, New York Times and Washington Post) had interlocking directorates with pharmaceuticals and insurance companies. In a survey of how the big corporate media covered the health care issue, FAIR observed:
"In the past six months, the Washington Post has published hundreds of articles on the subject of healthcare reform, fewer than 25% of which mention single-payer. Fewer than 30 percent of the sources who spoke about single-payer in those articles were advocates of the plan."
The same retreat from single-payer advocates appeared in the other mainstream media, including the networks. Although FAIR concluded that the interlocking directorates didn't necessarily lead to the lopsided reporting of the issue, it did indicate "at the very least, corporate media and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries' interests are fundamentally aligned." There is reason to believe it.

A greater threat to the performance of the media these days is its struggle for survival that has shaped its mission to be inoffensive and less intrusive into what it assumes to be the public's intolerance of anything beyond garden variety news dispatches. The networks' evening news shows are 22-minute recaps (with film, of course, and friendly reminders to the audience that "We're here for you!" ) of whatever might be sorrowfully noteworthy in the world. There is seldom an attempt to explore a complex issue beyond a couple of minutes. Seldom, too, is an effort to correct misinformation by political celebrities and their flaks. The medium simply doesn't permit it, and there are obviously moments when the interviewer doesn't know that he/she and the audience are being taken as fools. And when the collegial pundits take over on Sunday mornings, they offer no more than the same George-Will-like analysis that there is no such thing as climate change. Are you there, Cokie?

The final degradation of national media occurred twice in one week, with Time's doting cover story of Glenn Beck and Jay Leno's hunt for audience inflation by interviewing guest Rush Limbaugh. (Limbaugh needs another rostrum?) Leno should have stuck to standup comedy. Rushbo was all over him with such insights as "Medicare doesn't work" and "Social Security doesn't work." It's interesting to me that Limbaugh could pass honest judgment on two essential government programs that a multimillionaire of his resources will never need anyway.

It's during moments like this that I decide to give Chaucer's Canterbury Tales another shot in hopes that it will be easier to comprehend than what's happening in those liberal media today.

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