Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bernstein book raises questions about media

Media Matters takes a look at Bernstein's coming book about Hillary Clinton, and notes Bernstein raises a lot of questions about press coverage of the Clintons. It's not easy to excerpt excerpts, so go check it out if you wish.

The question Media Matters asks is a good one: will the media cover this criticism of itself?

The truly mind-numbing thing about the topic of the traditional media is that conventional wisdom amounts to a version of the Big Lie technique. The media absolutely savaged Democrats, especially the Clintons, in the 1990's, and there are simultaneously millions upon millions of kool-aid drinking conservatives who still insist the media has a liberal bias, and portions of the media establishment seem to still be very, very scared of the conservative charge, baseless as it is.

If the media were liberal you wouldn't get non-story stories about Democratic candidate haircuts and minor real estate deals, but any time a Democrat goes to the salon or the broker they better keep an eye out, because Matt Drudge and the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal might be there to spin up some fantastic tale out of nothing.

Nothing ever seems to change on any fundamental level. Sure, there are good reporters out there, and good editors and good organizations that do top-flight work. But taken as a whole, political coverage in this country is generally puerile to a point bordering on self-parody. (Insert standard reference to The Daily Show here.)

About the best we ever seem to get is a "pox on both the parties" approach, which might be fine in peacetime I guess. Problem is we have an incompetent administration running two wars supported by propaganda networks and newspapers (I'm looking at you, Fox Noise Channel and Washington Times.) And these propaganda outlets are given an awful lot of leeway by other outlets, with a few notable exceptions such as Keith Olbermann.

The harm that comes to democracy from propaganda should be obvious. How many of our fellow citizens still truly believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks?

The reluctance by many traditional media outlets to state the obvious, that there is a large, powerful Republican-leaning noise machine that dispenses sound globs and talking points daily, may be understandable but it's also maddening. But with the possible election of a Democratic president in 2008, (assuming the haircuts go off okay,) I'm sure the press will once again question everything.

Bernstein's book will be the perfect opportunity for some real self-examination in the media.

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