MSM : “Idelogical Support System?”

Mark Steyn points to this Ed Driscoll quote:

When the MSM moans about the gallons of red ink it’s spilled since 2001, it needs to ask itself if it’s prepared to actually report the news, in a fashion that interests readers, or if it exists as a non-profit ideological support system.

The focus of the question is the San Francisco Chronicle’s interview with Barack Obama in which he said his “cap and trade” plan would necessarily see electricity rates “skyrocket”. And that the regulation and mandates he’d impose on coal dependent industries (steel, power, etc) would bankrupt them.

Steyn and Driscoll are of the opinion that’s news. Apparently, the SF Chronicle didn’t see it that way.

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Which brings us to another point of discussion. Besides gushing red ink, what has the blatant bias demonstrated by the press in this election cost them. Two polls help establish that cost. The first establishes the perceived bias. As I’ve said any number of times, perception is reality to most people. And, per a recent Pew poll, the perception of the public is anything but complimentary to the MSM when it comes to how they’ve covered this election in particular:

Voters overwhelmingly believe that the media wants Barack Obama to win the presidential election. By a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4. Another 8% say journalists don’t favor either candidate, and 13% say they don’t know which candidate most reporters support.

That’s up 20 points from the 2004 election (and the Pew study shows that since 1992, the percentage of those saying the press favors Democrats has hovered in the 50% range with a spike of 59% in 1996). So this isn’t just the right or Republicans perceiving bias this time – it is a large majority of the public with that perception.

The cost? Well here’s the interesting part. The cost has been the forsaking of the MSM as the only source of news and opinion. It has been the destruction of the virtual monopoly the MSM held for decades when it was able to decide, filter and present what it felt was newsworthy.

The cost has been the rise of the “internet” as a primary source of campaign news and opinion.

While use of the web has seen considerable growth, the percentage of Americans relying on TV and newspapers for campaign news has remained relatively flat since 2004. The internet now rivals newspapers as a main source for campaign news. And with so much interest in the election next week, the public’s use of the internet as a campaign news source is up even since the primaries earlier this year. In March, 26% cited the internet as a main source for election news, while the percentages citing television and newspapers remain largely unchanged.

It would seem to me that even the most dim-witted of MSM editors could look at those numbers and fathom the future if they remain on the “ideological support system” path – The SF Chronicle’s treatment of the news contained in the Obama interview being the latest case study.

If they don’t figure it out (or continue to deny the existence of the bias and take steps to correct it) the possibility that they’ll become irrelevant, i.e. just another among a great number of choices, is quite good.

Liberty, as far as I’m concerned, is always enhanced when choice is increased. Given the behavior of the MSM choice has indeed been the winner. The bad news for the MSM is that once the lack of credibility box of has been opened, it is darned hard to close again.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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