The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, June 27, 2002  

The “Liberal Bias” Delusion

Perhaps the greatest victory won by American conservatives in the past 20 years has been to make the Big Lie stick. The Big Lie we’re referring to is that which holds that this country’s media is defined by a persistent and pervasive liberal bias. Frankly, we have difficulty imagining the wing nuts actually believe their rants about this purported injustice, as the premise is laughable on its face.

Even more amusing is when some thoroughly uninteresting scribbler -- let’s say, oh, Norah Vincent -- complains that conservatives have no voice in the American media and proceeds to write those words not in an obscure, small-circulation outlet like Human Events or Southern Partisan, but during a regular appearance in the Los Angeles Times, the country’s fourth-largest newspaper. Vincent, we can only suppose, is pursuing the time-honored strategy of “boring from within.”

Bernard Goldberg has turned the media’s alleged “liberal bias” into a veritable cottage industry. And Ann Coulter, who apparently labors down a rabbit hole, has written an entire book on the delusion -- a volume we can’t wait to get our hands on, in a revolting kind of way. [Ed.: In the meantime, Scoobie Davis has written a devastating critique of Coulter’s self-referentially entitled Slander that readers may peruse at their leisure.]

But moving on the higher forms of life . . . Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today has an essay in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram [Ed.: No, we don’t know how it ended up there either.] that speaks the truth to the Big Lie currently being peddled by Vincent, Coulter, Goldberg, and the rest of hallucinating right wing.

Sanders’s essay, “Corporations Have Chokehold on U.S. Media,” makes several important points that rarely find an outlet beyond a few “little magazines” of the American left. His language is a bit more Nation-esque than what we would use, but Sanders’s arguments are persuasive nonetheless.

“One of our best-kept secrets is the degree to which a handful of huge corporations control the flow of information in the United States,” he begins. “Whether it is television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books or the Internet, a few giant conglomerates are determining what we see, hear and read.”

Beyond the concentration of ownership of media outlets in the hands of a shrinking (sometimes foreign) few, Sanders rightly laments the narrow fare offered to American audiences.

“The essential problem with television is not just a right-wing bias in news and programming, or the transformation of politics and government into entertainment and sensationalism,” he writes. “It’s that the most important issues facing the middle-class and working people of our country are rarely discussed. The average American does not see his or her reality reflected on the television screen.”

And radio? Forget it.

“If television largely ignores the reality of life for the majority of Americans, corporate radio is just plain overt in its right-wing bias,” Sanders observes in a breathtaking understatement. He adds:

“In a nation that cast a few million more votes for Al Gore and Ralph Nader than for George W. Bush and Pat Buchanan, there are dozens of right-wing talk show programs.

Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, Bob Grant, Sean Hannity, Alan Keyes, Armstrong Williams, Howie Carr, Oliver North, Michael Savage, Michael Reagan, Pat Robertson, Laura Schlessinger -- these are only a few of the voices that day after day pound a right-wing drumbeat into the heartland of this country. And from a leftish perspective there is -- well, no one.”

Conservatives get away with the Big Lie because it hangs in the air unchallenged: Who among the dirty dozen cited in the previous paragraph would allow Sanders to make his argument -- uninterrupted and treated with respect and civility -- on his or her program? Who among the dirty dozen could present a coherent argument -- rather than a collection of shouted shopworn slogans -- that would refute Sanders?

We’re waiting.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |