Monday, October 27, 2008

ABC News Reporter on MSM's Career-Driven Bias

The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game -- with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates. The media have covered this presidential campaign with a bias and that ultimately could lead to its downfall. The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer. But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun -- for the first time in my adult life -- to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living...Media's Presidential Bias and Decline, Michael S. Malone, ABC News, 10/24/2008

This is a message that should have been obvious to bloggers a long time ago. It's the old cornered animal story. When the porcupine can't get away, that's when quills start to fly. Fact is, network news of any variety, except for, has had a declining audience for decades. The fragmentation of news sources, starting nearly forty years ago with CNN, but now with thousands of blogs, multiple cable networks, has made the actor reading the network executive's approved copy mostly irrelevant. (Quick, name your top five network anchors.) More significantly, it's made the network executive in the news division, and the news division itself, increasingly irrelevant to the network's future. The conversion from efforts to report all the facts of a story to sensationalism was the first step.

I watched with disbelief as the nation's leading newspapers, many of whom I'd written for in the past, slowly let opinion pieces creep into the news section, and from there onto the front page. Personal opinions and comments that, had they appeared in my stories in 1979, would have gotten my butt kicked by the nearest copy editor, were now standard operating procedure at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and soon after in almost every small town paper in the U.S. ...(Media's Presidential Bias...(cont'd))

The writer stopped reading the NY Times in 2000 after the Presidential election, figuring trade fiction was probably more interesting if purchased in the fiction section of a bookstore. Those writers are at least professionally engaged by telling tall tales. The next step, all the more disturbing, is becoming the New Pravda, one-sided news sources that deny the existence of any other view.

Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass -- no, make that shameless support -- they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press...what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del...If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography...That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so....(Media's Presidential Bias...(cont'd))

What's noteworthy additionally is that a public treated to only one side of a story, as if there were no other, may give an equally false response to a polltaker's question. This was standard fare in the Soviet Union. The only honest answers you could get would come in a private party where the room had been scanned for microphones, and then only after months, or even years, of developing trust. Toward the end of the Bolshevik regime, the assumption on the street, widely reported, was that nobody in official circles, or in the press, told anything but lies. Is this what the media wants?

Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power & only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent...Your job doesn't have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more...In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -- and desperate times call for desperate measures...And then the opportunity presents itself -- an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career...With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived Fairness Doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there...And besides, you tell yourself, it's all for the good of the country...((Media's Presidential Bias...(cont'd))

Believe it.


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