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  • Tuesday, January 04, 2005


    What Liberal Media?

    I'm just finishing What Liberal Media?: The Truth About BIAS and the News by Eric Alterman. Some of the arguments are not new to me. I'd generally trace many of his ideas back to Herman/Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent. However I quite enjoyed some of the details. The chapters on the Punditocracy and many of the major players were fascinating. Alterman's analysis is insightful and the examples really showed some of the glaring inconsistancies with the pundits' presentations of news issues. I feel Alterman occasionally skirts the edge of what I consider ad hominem but he generally does it skillfully. It's more a problem with a few descriptive phrases. His writing is also quite well footnoted.

    The central argument is that the much ballyhooed "Liberal Media" is practically non-existant. Oh, there are plenty of people talking about the "Liberal Media" but even the most casual examination of the stories covered and their content shows the fallacy of this perspective. The problem is that the narrow, conservative bias of the mass media means that when someone actually brings in even vaguely liberal opinions, they are seen as almost incredibly radical. The spectrum of accepted views and solutions is generally to the right of center politically. The national dialogue consequentially is stunted.

    One interesting thing I found out (and have always suspected) was that the "qualifications" for being a pundit have almost nothing to do with journalism or expertise in policy. Anyway, I'd recommend this book if you have an interest in understanding how opinion is shaped by our media. I found it very readable.

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