The Liberal Media

I guess that one’s perception of their place on the political spectrum depends on their location in the political spectrum.   It’s really all relative, isn’t it?

When I hear the tired refrain of liberal bias in the mainstream media, there is a good chance I am talking to someone who is pretty far to the right.  After all, the conservative media owns AM radio.  They have their own news station in Fox News,  their own newpapers like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. (Aren’t they aren’t the mainstream media?).

The most recent claim of liberal bias was the recent tweet from Sarah Palin with a Walter Cronkite quote admitting liberal bias in the media.  Her quote was quite out-of-context.   I doubt that she took the time to research the quote.  It was more likely out of sloppiness and a general disregard for facts.

Here’s the quote in context from a 1973 Playboy interview.  It’s interesting reading, especially his thoughts on why some people lean to the political left:

PLAYBOY: Implicit in the [Nixon] Administration’s attempts to force the networks to “balance” the news is a conviction that most newscasters are biased against conservatism. Is there some truth in the view that television newsmen tend to be left of center?
CRONKITE: Well, certainly liberal, and possibly left of center as well. I would have to accept that.

PLAYBOY: What’s the distinction between those two terms?
CRONKITE: I think the distinction is both clear and important. I think that being a liberal, in the true sense, is being nondoctrinaire, nondogmatic, noncommitted to a cause—but examining each case on its merits. Being left of center is another thing; it’s a political position. I think most newspapermen by definition have to be liberal; if they’re not liberal, by my definition of it, then they can hardly be good newspapermen. If they’re preordained dogmatists for a cause, then they can’t be very good journalists; that is, if they carry it into their journalism.

As far as the leftist thing is concerned, that I think is something that comes from the nature of a journalist’s work. Most newsmen have spent some time covering the seamier side of human endeavor; they cover police stations and courts and the infighting in politics. And I think they come to feel very little allegiance to the established order. I think they’re inclined to side with humanity rather than with authority and institutions. And this sort of pushes them to the left. But I don’t think there are many who are far left. I think a little left of center probably is correct.[1]

[1] http://www.playboy.com/articles/walter-cronkite-interview/index.html?page=2

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4 Responses to “The Liberal Media”

  1. Thor Says:

    Why are you still talking about her?

  2. Gary Murphy Says:

    Sarah Palin is still a possible candidate for the 2012 presidential primaries, although her resignation as governor reduces those chances. Even if she never holds public office, she is one of a handful of people that represent the face of the Republican Party.

    In short, what she says still matters politically, although I hope she fades quickly.

    That said, the post was more about the myth of the liberal media and what I thought were very interesting insights from Cronkite that I would otherwise missed had it not been for the Palin tweet.

  3. Thor Says:

    I just re-read Walters last paragraph. The problem is that what seems to be a noble description of what is “Liberal”, is just that, a description, and not practice. Actually I think it sounds a little utopian. Sure there are some out there that aspire to those qualities but do you think they are only on the political left because Walter says so. No one on the right can be nondoctrinaire, nondogmatic, noncommitted to a cause? That’s class narcissuses to claim such qualities. But that’s just my perception.

    So what we’re discussing here is basically she should have done her homework and spoke about, “Left of Center”, not Liberal, to support her Tweet about the contexts of reprting in general. In the current common political lexicon, they mean the same thing. Much like the left interchanges Conservative with let’s say right-wing extremist, Nazi, climate denier, white male, yada, yada, yada.

    I’m thirsty.

  4. Gary Murphy Says:

    As far as Palin goes, it’s more basic than that. I have two points. First, if you are going to quote someone, you should ensure that your quote is in context instead of spun to support your opinion. The second point is that it’s an unlikely quote. It didn’t pass the sniff test. Either she lacks basic skepticism and critical thinking skills or she just doesn’t care about the facts. Either conclusion is disturbing for someone seeking office. If she is just going to be a fundraiser and talking head like Limbaugh, then it matters much less.

    As for dogmatism in liberals vs. conservatives, of course there are shades of gray and there are shades of gray on an issue-by-issue basis. However, I suspect there is a pretty strong statistical correlation to what Cronkite stated.

    I don’t recall specifically if there was a dogmatism test here, but I found the psychology study on politics and morals[3] to be interesting in general.

    [1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/liberal
    [2] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/conservative
    [3] http://www.yourmorals.org/

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