A response to Eric Alterman's paltry attempt to actually argue that there is no liberal media bias. He next plans to attempt to argue that the Earth is flat, and that Galaleio fellow was a heretical nimcompoop suggesting the Sun was at the center of the solar system.
1) The Cowardly Lion. Alterman sure offers a caveat that he doesn't expect to win anyone over in 500 words (though he's now had 1500...you'd think if it was so obvious, he'd at least be able to start to make the case), and yet then goes on to provide 'evidence' that supports his contention. It's a slippery argument that allows him to offer the flip response to any criticism that he hasn't made his case with, 'Hey, I said I wasn't going to upfront.'
2) His argument that well-known media conservatives are 'more powerful' than we admit is completely irrelevant. Who cares if Brit Hume picked up the story about David Westin from Rush Limbaugh. The question is 1) was the story news and 2) was it presented in an objective matter. Alterman fails to address either point. And he merely asserts this line from conservative commentators all the way up to Fox News. I don't know that that's how they got ahold of it, but I don't really care if they did. Information sources can result in biased reporting, but it certainly isn't necessarily so...and Alterman certainly doesn't make the case that he does.
3) Conservatives don't want an 'objective' media. Again, a complete irrelevancy. Heck, Bernard Goldberg (if Alterman had bothered to read
'Bias' he would know this) suggests as much in his book. But, as Goldberg argued, what conservatives want is entirely beside the point when it comes to evaluate how the supposedly objective media is behaving. That some conservatives may want a Rush Limbaugh claiming to do 'objective' news reporting on the problems with welfare queens sitting at the NBC news desk is simply not a response at all to the question of whether the mainstream media is liberal. It simply avoids that question entirely.
4) Alterman's argument re: Westin is an excellent illustration itself of why the liberal media continue to fail to see how their own bias creeps in to their supposedly 'objective' news reporting. As Goldberg argues, it isn't some conscious conspiracy, the really believe that their own
liberal/left-wing views are objective, balanced, and mainstream. Alterman's argument that Westin should have stood behind his comments because they were a defense of media objectivity is ridculous. Westin's comment isn't one of objectivity, but moral relativity and bad judement. For a target to be 'legitimate' the war must be as well. No one has argued that Al Quadia's war is legitimate. For the Pentagon to be a legitimate target of Al Quaida, Al Quaida must be a legitimate agency of war, which no one in the international community or hear at home (except nuts on the Left like Susan Sontang) accepts. But in the end, it doesn't really matter whether Alterman is right or I am because....
5) But even if Westin was wrong to go back on his statement, it doesn't support the liberal-media-thesis-is-bunk argument. He doesn't offer any
evidence at all to suggest that conservatives in the media who were supposed to be doing objective reporting reported the story in a biased
manner...or tilted the story to reflect conservative values. Rush Limbaugh is quite explicitly a conservative commentator, he is as free
to be outraged over it as Paul Krugrman would be to defend it and neither would be examples of media bias because they are quite
explicitly *not* suggesting they are objective reporters of the news. He simply decries the fact that Westin capitulated after it became known
that he had said it and growing public outrage over it became apparent. If Alterman wants to make his case that this is an example of
conservative bias, he has to show that conservatives in the media *comitted* bias, and clearly the fact that Westin capituated doesn't do that at all. The fact remains, that if the media reported, and the people decided they didn't like Westin's argument, that isn't an example of biased media...but of a judgement by the public that Alterman didn't like.
Anyway, had to vent. Hope you enjoued it, ;)