I am getting a lot of flak from the right and praise from the left for this statement:
In fact, many in the media are downright flagwavers and damned patriotic, and in the case of some, outright jingoists. I have no problem attacking, by name, slimeballs (again, Eason Jordan and Ted Rall come to mind), but we have got to stop this generic smearing of the media. Most of them are doing their best to get it right. Just because they are rightly suspicious of the military establishment does not make them anti-military or anti-American.
So let’s stop these generic attacks on the media. Media Slander is up, and they will document the actual atrocities. And while we are at it, can we conservatives please stop this laughable cult of victimology? We have the Presidency (for the second time in a row and the fifth time in the last seven elections). We control the Senate by a ten seat margin. We control the House by a larger margin. We have dismissed or dismantled virtually every institutional check in order to limit opposition debate and increase institutional control, regardless how short-sighted that might be. We are ramming through just about every judge we wanted, and are about to reload the Supreme Court with Antonin Scalia at the helm.
We control dozens of governors offices and an equal number of state legislatures. We have hundreds of think tanks, hundreds of talk show hosts, hundreds of conservative columnists, millions of bloggers. We have dozens of partisan magazines and pundits, legions of 527’s and grass-roots organizations, and dozens of think-tanks. We have, ostensibly, our own damned cable news channel and so many right leaning editorial boards of newspapers I can’t even begin to count them. Memes that start in obscure blogs find their way onto the front page of allegedly liberal newspapers in the matter of two days.
We may be a lot of things, but persecuted victims we are not. To assert otherwise is to engage in a self-defeating flight of fancy that should be met with nothing short of outright ridicule.
Do I think there is bias in the media? Yes, at times there are subtle biases and at times there are overt and blatant biases. Most of the time, I think the bias comes from stupidity, ignorance, and laziness. Most of the time the biases that appear to be anti-conservative or anti-Republican come from the fact that many in the media are, in fact, liberal, and through no actual intent their pieces come out biased.
Let’s take abortion as an example. I do not think I am going out on a limb stating that most people in the media, but not all, are pro-choice and decidedly so. Because they are so overtly pro-choice, they have, in many cases, never taken the time to look at and thoroughly examine the anti-abortion position, and look at from where this belief structure takes its roots. They do not recognize that for many people who are anti-abortion, there can be no compromise on abortion, because their belief is that abortion is murder. Period.
This belief comes from their complete faith in a transcendent God, whose word as represented in the Bible and other religious texts serves as the explanation of and the reason for the existence and creation of all life. Thus, not only is abortion murder, but it is an act that they view as reprehensible and tantamount to a grave sin against God. It is not, as many in the media and on the left in general mistakenly believe, a negotiable position.
Their absolutism is not because they are thick-headed, want to control a woman’s ovaries, anti-sex, or misogynistic. It may appear that way because many of their beliefs do seek to restrict certain behaviors, but their absolutism on this and similar issues is rooted in their faith, and is NOT an issue for which they CAN negotiate. It is, in essence, a core belief that will not be changed (if I have misrepresent this in any way, let me know).
You can disagree with their position, as I do on virtually every issue regarding sex, homosexuality, abortion, stem cells, etc., but you should recognize why they think the way they do. This will only help your news coverage, and a lot of people in the media just don’t get it.
Looked at from that perspective, the fact that abortion is allowed at all is, in fact, tantamount to an ENORMOUS compromise, and you can understand why they are spitting mad about Roe v. Wade. Many in the media just don’t get that because, through isolation, group-think, or a lack of exposure to those who do have that belief, they have never heard it articulated as such. This is precisely what Bernard Goldberg was talking about in Bias– a lack of diversity leads to accidental biases that, were there people in the news room who thought differently, would not happen.
Another example, from the comments of the original post:
The press isn’t ‘anti-military’ per se, they’re just profoundly ignorant of the subject they’re covering.
Ignorant of the culture, ignorant of the terminology, ignorant of the basic rules that govern the conduct of the people involved, and, worse, they don’t care.
A rough analogy would be a paper that assigned a business reporter who didn’t understand the distinction between a lock-out and a strike to cover a labor dispute.
I think this is the cause of most of the perceptions of bias around issues- it isn’t usually out of mean-spiritedness, hatred, or any other of the malicious attributions forwarded, but out of a lack of exposure to a profoundly different values system.
I understand this, and I understand the frustration from conservatives about such biases. I reject, however, that the media is anti-military or anti-American or unpatriotic. I was asked in the comments to list some flag-waving journalists, as if they do not exist. I can think of hundreds of them, and I will start with one that will shock you:
Dan Rather, for all his sins, is one of the most overtly patriotic newscasters I can remember. He may hate Republicans and in particular the Bush family, and he has been on a crusade against Republicans since Nixon until this day. His list of sins and his list of slanted coverage may be long, but to assert that he is anything but a man who loves his country and is patriotic is an insult to my intelligence.
While he has exaggerated his military service as a Marine, the man earned his reputation covering the Vietnam war. His opposition to things such as the Vietnam War, or Republicans in general, may be obnoxious and lead to biased reporting, but to assert he did it because he hates the country or is unpatriotic or hates the military is simply offensive. He so desperately wants to associate himself with the Marines, that he has lied about his military service. This is what the military-bashing media looks like?
The man clearly loves this country- have you forgotten his behavior in the aftermath of 9/11:
Rather’s two moments of spontaneous, bone-rattling despair on Letterman weren’t signs of weakness, cracks in judgment or evidence of an inability to be impartial. They were a newsman’s personal and immediate reckoning with how to be — a nonverbal acknowledgment that no one, not even those who have been trained to keep their composure at all costs, is immune to the emotional fallout of events like last week’s. That should be a comfort, and not an embarrassment, to the rest of us.
Rather’s appearance on Letterman was as a news personality, not a news anchor; he was wearing a different hat. His views of last week’s attack didn’t make for particularly incisive news analysis: He spoke of the inevitability of American retaliation, a statement that probably seemed jingoistic to some viewers but wasn’t particularly strident considering most Americans’ simmering (and ongoing) anger and confusion. He made it clear that the enemy was not Islam itself but a relatively small contingent of religious extremists. He spoke of those extremists’ “jealousy” of America and Americans, for its riches and apparent unassailability. And he made no bones about the attack as a manifestation of pure “evil” — a word that in the past week has proved to be resolutely practical in attempting to explain the inexplicable.
Rather maintained his evenness until he told Letterman that a song Americans have sung since they were school kids, “America the Beautiful,” will never sound quite the same to him: “Oh beautiful for patriot’s dream/That echoes through the years/Thine alabaster cities gleam/Undimmed by human tears.” His voice broke as he got to that last line.
The United States is peopled by all kinds of patriots: Repressive ones, even-handed ones, annoying ones, lazy ones. The most sensible patriots, and the ones that are most needed now, are the ones who have come to terms with the difference between the real America — the messy one, the one that often makes mistakes, the one that has plenty of enemies — and the dream America that we sung about as school kids. Nonetheless, there’s a place where those two Americas intersect. In the space of that verse Rather saw that America, that inextinguishably bright oval in the Venn diagram, and the sight of it was too much for him, in that moment, to bear.
This is what an America hater looks like? Please- Dan Rather may be a lot of things, but anti-American he is not, and so it is for any number of media types.
How about Tom Brokaw, whose uber-patriotic Greatest Generation books smack of outright jingoism? How about Lou Dobbs, who has all but joined the Minutemen on the border? Neil Cavuto? Chris Matthews? Tim Russert? What about Peter Jennings- who as recently as 2003 CHOSE to be a citizen of this country.
Just because people disagree with you on issues, or because their news coverage may be slanted towards another political viewpoint, or because they are overtly hostile to a certain political party- that just does not mean they aren’t patriots. My goodness- the father of modern liberalism, George McGovern, was a war hero and one of the most patriotic human beings to ever walk on American soil, and if you try to say otherwise, war hero and staunch Republican Bob Dole will be the first person in line to kick your ass.
Republicans don’t own patriotism, and it would be wise to get this through our heads. There may be journalists and members of the media who really do hate America, but they are few and far between, and marginalized by society and their peers.
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