Theories On Why The Left Thinks The Mainstream Media Is Conservative

by John Hawkins | January 30, 2006 8:24 am

The latest John Leo column focuses on the hot new craze on the left side of the blogosphere: ranting about how conservative the mainstream media is =D. From Leo[1]:

“Liberals wage many battles, but have you heard which one is the major struggle now? Brace yourselves: It’s the campaign “against the established media and its bizarre relationship with the right wing and the truth.” That’s from the Daily Kos, a popular liberal blog. No, it’s not a satire. Just when conservatives thought they were getting somewhere against the entrenched liberalism of the newsroom culture, it turns out that the newsroom has been reactionary all along. The real lonely insurgents fighting for media balance and truth are liberals. The mind reels.

Some on the left — media columnist Eric Alterman, for one — acknowledge that journalists tend to be reflexively liberal on social issues, but not on economic matters, where the values of the media’s corporate ownership usually prevail. Maybe so, but that is not what is being said now. In its anger and frustration, the left, led by its Deaniac base, is loudly arguing that the news media reliably reflect the values of Washington Republicans. Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review, summed it up: “The left has the MSM (mainstream media) squarely in its sights.”

…Many on the left are clearly frustrated and baffled that they haven’t been able to stop Samuel Alito, or to make the Republicans pay a political price for the many corporate and lobbying scandals. (That one is a mystery to me too.) The argument is that the press is accepting pro-Republican story lines, for example that John Murtha wants to “cut and run” from Iraq, while Bush is “steadfast.” Since the public doesn’t accept Democratic talking points on many issues, or so the argument goes, it must be the media’s fault for presenting the stories or narrative lines incorrectly.”

The idea that the mainstream media is so kooky, it’s right up there with Diebold rigging the elections, conservatives planning to send liberals to camps, and Bush invading Iraq to get revenge for them “trying to kill his daddy”…come to think of it, liberals believe a lot of dumb, obviously false things, so why should this be any different?

But, why do they believe or at least claim to believe this? I have four interlocking theories:

#1) First and foremost, the liberal blogosphere has incredibly unrealistic expectations for the MSM. They essentially look at papers where liberals outnumber conservatives 4-5-6 to 1, where their editorial pages are made up of a bunch of liberals and a token conservative or two, where the news slants heavily to the left and they say that’s not good enough because someone said something true but mean about a liberal or because the conservative side of an issue was actually reported in a handful of cases. In short, their idea of a “conservative” member of the MSM is everything to the right of the Daily Kos or Crooks and Liars. If it’s not all Democratic talking points and, “I hate Bush,” all the time, it’s not, “moderate enough,” in their view.

#2) No matter how often they fail, no matter how often they crash and burn, no matter how much objective evidence there is to the contrary, liberals never admit that their ideas are bad. The wrong people were in charge, it wasn’t properly funded, let’s talk about this thing the conservatives are doing instead, etc., etc., it’s always something.

So, when liberal ideas are soundly rejected by the voters, they have to come up with an excuse to explain why the people are rejecting these “wonderful” ideas. They may just blame Republican propaganda, claim the election was rigged, blame people’s religious values for getting in the way, say the American people are just too dumb to understand how great these ideas are or — drumroll, please — that the mainstream media isn’t properly explaining how great the left’s agenda is and how rotten and evil the Republicans are. It’s anything, but the ideas…

#3) In sports, you’ll sometimes see a manager complain to the umpire or ref not because he expects to get a call reversed, but because he hopes to influence the next call. For example, if a football coach complains that the refs have been calling non-existent holds all day long, maybe the referee will let the next one slide. Same deal here. These liberal reporters couldn’t care less what conservatives think, but they’d rather not have people “on their side” mad at them so they may go a little further to the left than they otherwise would in response to criticism from other libs.

#4) Never forget that since Fox, talk radio, and the right side of the blogosphere has peeled off a lot of conservative eyeballs from the MSM, the liberal side of the blogosphere and the MSM are increasingly in competition for the same customers. If lefties in the blogosphere can paint the MSM as, “right wing shills,” it makes it easier for them to steal their audience.

Put it all together and you have a bunch of ultra liberal bloggers, looking at a bunch of other liberals in the mainstream media and complaining about how conservative they are…

  1. Leo:

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