Right Wing/Left Wing/Corporate Media?
May 14, 2001 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Right Wing/Left Wing/Corporate Media? Which is it? Are the biases just in the eye of the beholder, or are they really there? For instance, I find Fox News right wing biased - but to me NBC/ABC seem pretty balanced, if somewhat anti-left wing liberal. Others find all the outlets to be nothing more than mouthpieces for globalist, capitalist propaganda. Is it any or all of these things?
posted by owillis (33 comments total)
Since when was ABC/NBC anti-liberal? MSNBC tends to be biased towards the left, as is most major media, probably because it reflects American society. Fox is probably the most balanced, but they do feature independent right-wing shows like the O'Reilly Factor that may make you think the network itself slanted.

Oh yeah, and not to start a political squabble or anything, but:

"liberal (n.) - in political speech now in the U.S. a liberal is a person who believes it is the duty of government to ameliorate social conditions and create a more equitable society. Liberals favor generous spending on the welfare state; they exhibit a concern for minorities, the poor, and the disadvantaged and often see these conditions as a product of social injustices rather than individual failings. (...) " -- The Politcal Dictionary

"Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what has worked with what sounded good. In area after area- crime, education, housing, race relations- the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them. " -- Thomas Sowell
posted by bonzo at 11:33 AM on May 14, 2001

Corporate media, definitely. Joseph McCarthy's perceived threat from Communism pales in comparison to the influence of corporatism today.

I think the original mistake was to give corporations the same rights under the law as individuals. That is wrong in so many ways. Corporations have no soul, no conscience, no morals, no guiding principles other than profit. Exploiting the weaknesses of persons and laws in the interest of profit makes the assignment of people rights to corporations a BIG mistake.

On the Kurtz article, he was doing well up to this:
" The coverage of Bush may look very different if the administration stumbles."

What the hell does he mean IF?????!!!!! Open your eyes Kurtz!! Or are you just blinded by the W charm?
posted by nofundy at 11:38 AM on May 14, 2001

Ewwww.... I just saw a quote from Uncle Tom.... Now I feel nasty just to have a post beneath it. That man falls below retrograde. Next thing ya' know someone will be quoting Horowitz to defend a thought...:)
posted by nofundy at 11:42 AM on May 14, 2001

I think all the complaints about right wing media are the result of Fox News. I detect not only a bias but a right wing agenda at Fox-News, and i suspect most conservatives when not in a public forum would admit that its their station.

While it is true that they allow Democrats on, they usually outnumber Democratic voices two to one. The host will normally interject on the behalf of the Republican viewpoint. The Democratic spokespeople are quite frankly, not our best, with the exception of Alan Colmes. Usually they identify them as 'liberals' which has a more negative connotation than other terms that could be used: Democrats, progressives. Conservatives are not called 'right-wing' when they sit down with Tim Russert.

In the parts of programming that are not debate orientated the commentary of their main anchors Tony Snow and Bret Hume reflect a conservative view point, and they do not have a Democratic spokesperson of thier stature employed at the station, that would match ABC's employment of George Will. On the morning show with the two guys and the blonde the quips are almost exculsively at Gore, Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton's expense. Sure there just jokes, but they're one-sided.

Where there is a debate, the questions they ask, as in one graphic I remember during the election: "Is Gore Lying?' does not match their slogan. We report/You decide. If the word lying is used, there's a presumption of guilt. That's just one example.
Plus, they employ actual Republican operatives. With Bush cousin John Ellis and Republican strategist Roger Ailes on staff, its a little hard to argue they are not GOP TV.
posted by brucec at 11:51 AM on May 14, 2001

When you begin to quote Sowell, you are at home with the fringe group. Stations are onwed by big money people. They slant toward this direction. Some are much worse than others. Just check out the guest speakers on a Sunday or during talk show (any station) and figure out how many represent a liber or conservative position. Then you will know.
posted by Postroad at 11:54 AM on May 14, 2001

It is strange that nobody ever seems to think the media is biased in their favor. It is either against them, or correct. Why is that?
posted by thirteen at 11:59 AM on May 14, 2001

This is probably a good place to mention that Silvio Berlusconi is set to be Italy's next prime minister. He owns four TV stations, with a combined 43% audience share; AC Milan, the country's biggest sporting team; is Italy's richest man, and has a list of criminal allegations hanging over him like the Sword Factory of Damocles.

So you should only worry about media bias if Rupert Murdoch decides to seek political office.
posted by holgate at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2001

Usually they identify them as 'liberals' which has a more negative connotation than other terms that could be used: Democrats, progressives. Conservatives are not called 'right-wing' when they sit down with Tim Russert.

This has bothered me for a long time. When exactly did "liberal" become such "dirty word". I'm liberal and quite proud to be so. Was it Ronald Reagan? Or did it happen before that.

posted by trox at 12:10 PM on May 14, 2001

i'd have to say this only matters to big weenies.
posted by dogmatic at 12:30 PM on May 14, 2001


Its great that you feel that way, and some people do, but I think it has a negative conotation with middle class votera and people who think that 'liberals' are hippies or commies or something. The funny thing is: base of the word is in 'liberty' and 'freedom', something that many Republicans identify with. So you could almost say most Republicans are liberals really, because they want government off thier backs. And most Democrats are conservatives, because they want to conserve the social programs, labor laws and protections we have. But its easier to talk in symbols.

In any case I think you will find more conservatives use the term 'liberal' than Democrats use when self-identifying.
posted by brucec at 12:30 PM on May 14, 2001

bonzo quoted:
"Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what has worked with what sounded good.

This whole quote does nothing more than restate its author's political bias in flowery terms. The changes Mr. Sowell decries were presumably made because the people doing the changing didn't think the old way was working. "Failure" is relative to what you want to accomplish, and if you define your terms with sufficient cleverness you can find success or failure wherever you look for it. All this quote does is demonstrate that Mr. Sowell is perfectly happy with the way things worked thirty years ago; it says nothing at all about the health of the political system.

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:46 PM on May 14, 2001

An interesting aside on the "liberal" as a dirty word argument would be the recent articles by Ralph Nader and newt Gingrich in Brill's Content on the subject of the estate tax...

Nader pointed out how the right wing will abuse semantics to push their agenda through. In the case of estate tax, referring to it as the death tax, as if anyone who dies would have to pay it (which isn't true). Then I believe Nader went on how the people for repealing the tax would portray anyone against them as "liberal nuts".

Gingrich constantly referred to liberals in his counterpoint piece arguing for the repeal of the tax...

Liberal is the new communist. The word has been painted with the strokes of the talk show host brush, painting any liberal as some one who knows better than you, and doesn't understand the workings of the real world. Like the word communist, it is rejected as an ideology without discussion because the word has become so tainted. In fact, many leftists (see indymedia.org) will rail against neo-liberalism.
posted by drezdn at 12:53 PM on May 14, 2001

probably because it reflects American society

and that's just what the liberals want you to think.

posted by fuzzygeek at 1:00 PM on May 14, 2001

Anyone who thinks Fox News is balanced doesn't have a lot to offer on the subject of media bias.

Fox put a Bush cousin in a position to call states for a candidate on election night and let him pass time that evening feeding information to his family.

Fox covered the Bush inauguration with two hours of nothing but Brit Hume, William Kristol and Peggy Noonan heaping fulsome praise on Bush and bitter abuse on Clinton.

Fox is run by Republican strategist Roger Ailes, a past adviser to Nixon, Reagan, D'Amato and Giuliani.

These are just a few examples of many -- TomPaine.Com offers more. I don't mind the bias of Fox News, but pretending it is balanced is a huge insult to the intelligence. How stupid does Fox News think its audience is?

Watching Hume lend his credibility to the enterprise and behave like such a partisan crank has been a huge disappointment. I had no idea what his politics were when he covered news for ABC. His opinions are crystal clear on Fox. Yet ABC is the biased network?
posted by rcade at 1:08 PM on May 14, 2001

Usually they identify them as 'liberals' which has a more negative connotation than other terms that could be used: Democrats, progressives.

I don't know why conservatives would want to use the term "liberal" to describe left-wingers, especially since it used to mean something very different from progressivist, closer to libertarian.
posted by dagnyscott at 1:20 PM on May 14, 2001

Thats a good point. The meaning of the word Liberal has completely changed. The founding fathers would probably have been refered to as liberals in their time, but that has no relation to the word's current meaning. For example, the modern Democratic and Republican parties are very different in belief than their historical counter-parts. Alas, such is the way of politics.
posted by bonzo at 1:51 PM on May 14, 2001

Fox clearly has a rightward bias, nauseatingly so. The other media outlets' only "bias" is "towards" superficiality (lack of depth). This favors whichever political side's argument is most simplistic; usually, but not always, the conservative's.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:09 PM on May 14, 2001

and the longer we remain confused, the longer the mysterious engines hum

"You know the one thing that is wrong with this country? Everyone gets a chance to have their fair say."
William Jefferson Clinton

How to Identify Liberal Media Bias

Conservative Top 40 and Guide to Lukewarm "Liberals"

"For heaven sakes, we kid about the liberal media, but every Republican on earth does that."
Pat Buchanan
posted by dukejohnson at 2:25 PM on May 14, 2001

Well, both the left and the right can trace their ideologies back to John Locke, the father of "classical liberalism". Though that's a back reference: after all, the "Liberal" and "Conservative" parties were only given those names in the mid-1800s, and it's John Stuart Mill who can be regarded as the architect of modern liberalism.

Though it's fun to substitute "liberal" for "free" in modern political discussions: "Liberal Republic", anyone? Or "liberal market economics"?
posted by holgate at 2:34 PM on May 14, 2001

I'm conservative, and I can see the bias in Fox News. There isn't much of a doubt that they are pro-conservative.

The news I watch most is MSNBC, which on the whole, I find fair-to-left-leaning, and that is only the result of a few on-air individuals. ABC & CBS are noticably left-leaning almost at all times, especially in their late-night programs [Nightline & Primetime].
posted by schlyer at 2:46 PM on May 14, 2001

bonzo, if I can be trusted to interpret for Oliver: progressive liberals, who identify with the left-wing label, do not find the media favorable to their point of view; generally they find the media corporationist and statist, occasionally populist. In this sense the most the media can be considered liberal is something that would be termed "center-left" in Europe, e.g. the various Christian Democratic parties, or Britain's Labour (as opposed to Britain's more progressive Liberal party).

True lefties in America don't have a real home outside of the Green party fringe-radicalism or the patronizing corporate centrism of the present Democratic party. In this sense the media are anti-liberal. Perhaps anti-progressive would get the point across more quickly.

As for when liberal became a dirty word, there was a real turning point around the time that Michael Dukakis was labeled by Bush the elder "a card-carrying member of the ACLU", where the term card-carrying was a disgusting throwback to the McCarthyist phrase, "card-carrying member of the Communist Party", a reference that seemed either completely acceptable to some or to go right over the heads of most others. In the 90s you've seen people like Gore call themselves "card-carrying liberal" with a hint of dry wit, and I think the polls show more people identifying positively with the label than a decade ago -- even as the center-left, pro-business, pro-middle-class New Democrats have taken over the reins of the party.

I consider myself to be a liberal-libertarian, although I've said that and had the rejoinder that those concepts are opposites. Not from where I'm sitting! It's true that more online libertarian types would sooner self-identify as conservatives, but that doesn't mean they've redefined the term along the way.
posted by dhartung at 2:56 PM on May 14, 2001

I don't think there's necessarily a contradiction. Or at least, I don't find my concern with civil liberties and constitutional reform at odds with my support for public services funded out of taxation. Apparently, that marks me out as a "communitarian" in respect to the US political matrix, but I'm happier to consider myself in a tradition of social radicalism that runs from the Levellers through to the Zapatistas.

We aim not at power in ourselves, our principles and desires being in no measure of self-concernment: nor do we rely for obtaining the same upon strength, or a forcible obstruction; but solely upon that inbred and persuasive power that is in all good and just things, to make their own way in the hearts of men, and so to procure their own Establishment.

But the Levellers didn't get decent press coverage either.
posted by holgate at 3:41 PM on May 14, 2001

Well, both the left and the right can trace their ideologies back to John Locke, the father of "classical liberalism".

I was gonna say, many of the ideas of classical liberalism have become the basis for pretty much everyone in the USA (representative government)... but some parts (laissez-faire economics, free trade) aren't, and are associated more with the libertarians than anyone else. (though the "right" in some contexts are isolationists opposed to that "free trade" part. but the only American who really fits that is Buchanan)
posted by dagnyscott at 4:51 PM on May 14, 2001

You guys complaining about right/left wing media when we italian guys now have a Prime Minister that is a

1) Media Mogul
2) One of the richest men in Europe
3) Still owns 3 national TV channels , a number of magazines and newspapers, some radio etc etc
4) Has been accused of being closely related to

Murdoch looks like a saint compared to him.

I'm speaking about Mr. Silvio Berlusconi. Go see on CNN

His election was applauded by Bush too and Mr. Berlusconi
says he believes in Mrs.Tatcher and Ex-Prez Reagan national economy policies. That's not good news, imho.

posted by elpapacito at 5:05 PM on May 14, 2001

The US media is left-wing?

Get a grip, folks.
posted by lagado at 5:06 PM on May 14, 2001

elpapacito: your people elected him, right? You got a goober, we got a goober.... just fight to get him kicked out
posted by owillis at 5:26 PM on May 14, 2001

I don't receive Fox News, so I can't say whether it is balanced or not. However, take a look at the other news stations:

NBC has Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, and Geraldo Rivera, all Democrats, while CNN, having a variety of programs with Republicans and Democrats, also have Jesse Jackson hosting his own talk show while no conservative has his/her own talk show. At CBS, you have Dan Rather attending a Democratic fund raiser.

No wonder some people think the media is biased and perhaps FNC was started to give the right something to watch.
posted by gyc at 7:42 PM on May 14, 2001

I think its fine to have a right wing news station like Fox, if they came out and admited it. but I understand: they don't want to blow away the Northeast cable market. OK, they don't even need to do it in a flashy graphic : a fireside chat with Brit Hume would do:

look guys, who are we kidding with this fair and balanced stuff. I'm gonna level with you...we're right wing. And wer'e not going left. Do you still like us? Yes. Good. [whew] glad that's over with..... Coming up next: Mort Kondrake, Fred Barnes, Tony Snow and special commentator Newt Gingrich. Oh, and yes, a OK let's bring in Kathy Ireland from NOW for some balance.
posted by brucec at 8:33 PM on May 14, 2001

Don't watch television news. Left or right, it's not good. Read a good newspaper.
posted by pracowity at 5:31 AM on May 15, 2001

right, pracowity, because I know what I need is someone else's local news.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:09 AM on May 15, 2001

> someone else's local news.

Local news is mostly tripe: car crashes, house fires, convenience-store break-ins. Don't waste your time watching or reading it.

For national and international news, get a paper like the New York Times. And I read that the Grand Rapids Press is well regarded.
posted by pracowity at 7:30 AM on May 15, 2001

I know local news sucks. I don't care about my own local news, but I care even less about anyone else's, which is what almost all of the papers on that list were. Even the New York Times is at least partly local news. I don't need that sort of bias.
posted by dagnyscott at 1:05 PM on May 15, 2001

dagnyscott: well, there's the BBC. And while the Guardian is unabashedly left-wing, it has a top-class site, which like the BBC allows its foreign correspondents to file much more regularly the kind of stories that aren't headline news, and worth reading for precisely that reason.

And you can do much much worse than the Herald Trib.
posted by holgate at 1:27 PM on May 15, 2001

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