For the past thirty years or so, conservatives have complained about left-wing bias in the media. Indeed, these conservatives insist that most journalists are leftists, that they want to convert all of their readers and viewers to liberalism, and that they attempt to destroy right-wing politicians, all the while putting their Democratic heroes on pedestals while suppressing news about their shortcomings. Their strenuous efforts have been rewarded, too. After decades of non-stop carping, many Americans--if not most--now agree with them. Many Americans now simply assume that, yes, left-wing bias in the media must be a serious problem. After all, if such bias were not a problem, why would so many people be complaining about it? The results have been impressive: these efforts of such conservatives have led to the rise of a raw New Media designed to counter it.
All of which has been
ironic. In fact, the evidence for this
alleged massive conspiracy has been paltry.
Studies conducted by peer-reviewed journals have proved to be muddled. Of course, there are now numerous
publications that are overtly, proudly liberal (interestingly, many of these
openly progressive periodicals appeared in response to the right-wing New
Media). However, most conservatives
truly deplore the media coverage offered by the enormous, venerable
institutions like CBS, ABC, NBC,
CNN, and The New York Times. After all,
these being the largest institutions, they have the most social influence. After studying the actions of these
companies, one tends to get the same impressions that the peer-reviewed
journals seem to get: that bias can be difficult to prove, and that bias (like
beauty) is in the eyes of the beholder.
In other words, concerns about leftist bias in the media comprise a mere
During the Bill Clinton Administration, a major moral lapse occurred: the then-President began having an affair with a Monica Lewinsky. If the Big Journalism companies really had been covertly leftist, they would have buried such an explosive story. After all, such a story would be an enormous embarrassment to Clinton (their supposed idol) and all fellow Democrats. CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, and The New York Times, however, did not bury the story. Instead, these large media companies reported on this scandal ad nauseam, to the point that press coverage mutated into an embarrassing feeding frenzy. If anything, the supposed left-wing media, with its tawdry fixation on this affair, actually gave the story a gravitas that it never deserved. Ultimately, this peccadillo was a private matter, and had nothing to do with policy. Thus, it should have been of limited interest to the public. However, the press covered it non-stop, largely because it knew that sex sells, and knew that reporting on a Presidential extramarital tryst would be obscenely profitable. This is a fact that conservatives rarely consider or acknowledge: that, very often, coverage is decided by the pursuit of profit rather than pristine ideology.
Much more recent are President Obama's problems with the press, which now fixates on his scandals, such as the NSA debacle. A true left-wing press would have suppressed these stories, dooming them to obscurity. However, it did the opposite, covering the scandals obsessively in the name of profits (and it has made a lot of money by covering these Presidential missteps). Once again, corporate greed overrules ideology.
Furthermore, conservatives are being disingenuous when they claim that there is a dearth of right-wing media sources. In fact, there are numerous ones. Some are venerable, such as The Wall Street Journal, The National Review, The New York Post, and The Washington Times. Others are part of the New Media, such as: Rush Limbaugh; Sean Hannity; Fox News; The Drudge Report; Newsmax; Real Clear Politics; Glenn Beck; Reason; and many others. When you add in conservative blogs and the editorial staffs of small-town American newspapers (which tend to skew conservative as well), one has a fairly balanced media. Adding to the complexity (and the hypocrisy) is that these publications and radio programs, to counter these allegedly liberal news sources, have abandoned all pretenses of objectivity. They always present their stories from a right-wing viewpoint. Thus, it's debatable if these media sources truly comprise journalism. Oftentimes, these sources more closely resemble public relations or advocacy.
A final word about the right-wing New Media: Many of these so-called "journalists" are not trained professionals. Many--such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck--never went to journalism school, unlike the nuanced professionals at, say, CBS. They never learned the importance of objectivity, balance, and getting both sides of the story. These conservatives have never been true reporters; they only know how to look like them. Unfortunately, many of their fans can't seem to tell the difference, either.