Monday, July 19, 2010
The usual disillusioned phrase is "mainstream media" or MSM. The problem, of course, is not mainstream-hood. Angrily talking about the "state-run media" is even more misguided: the media were anything but state-run, or state-sympathetic, when Bush was president; and Republican or conservative officials or judges can expect relentless hostility now as much as ever.
What we have is One-Party Media: newspapers, broadcast networks, newsmagazines which represent the views and preoccupations of the Democratic Party and the political left, and consistently denigrate or ignore the views and preoccupations of the political right or centre-right; and which very often systematically ignore any news or information which might reflect badly on the one party, or reflect well on the policies, proposals, or values of the other. (Fox is the exception - and how it is reviled for it! - although in its actual news stories, Fox often, although not always, follows the "narrative" of the other media.) (The Wall Street Journal is the other partial exception, but with the same proviso for many of its actual news stories, and at any rate the Journal is still largely a specialised business paper with a specialised readership. There are essentially no other major exceptions in either print or broadcast news.)
It is extraordinary, and I think unprecedented, that a free press has voluntarily transformed itself into something not very different from the controlled press in an undemocratic country. But that is what has happened. There are, to be sure, alternative sources of information and commentary in the US for anyone who seeks them out. (There are often such sources in undemocratic countries as well: foreign broadcasts, "underground" or samizdat circulation, and so on.) But the mainline, and still collectively very powerful, media are overwhelmingly a One-Party media. It needs to be said plainly.
Scott Johnson on the Powerline blog wrote yesterday about the Justice Department's treatment of the New Black Panther Party case:
I think this should be a big story, and I know it would be viewed as a scandal of epic proportions to which we would be treated on a daily basis if a similar story arose in a Republican administration. It is the sickening double standard of the mainstream media that adds the frisson of disgust to what is otherwise an interesting story in itself.
But this was merely yesterday's example. There are innumerable examples, every day.