Dialogue of the deaf 39

In America now, the Left and the Right could be speaking two different languages, so little do they understand each other.

We on the conservative right are convinced that the mainstream media are heavily biased towards the Left. Confirmation of our view has just been handed to us by the Daily Caller in an article by Jonathan Strong, titled Documents show media plotting to kill stories about Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Obama-supporting journalists a huge majority in the profession – knew all too well that Jeremiah Wright, the pastor whose church Barack Obama had been attending for twenty years, was an America-hating bigot, a fiercely anti-white racist, and a sympathizer with the 9/11 terrorists. Obama’s association with him was so likely to be harmful to his election prospects that they would have suppressed any news of it reaching the voters. But pesky right-wing reporters who did not think that one of Wright’s faithful flock would be a good choice for the presidency of the United States were insistently spreading the information. It made the Obama supporters spitting furious. They sent written advice to each other on how to deal with the threat that the exposure of the truth was posing.

One example from the Daily Caller:

Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

The whole article and all the quotations are worth reading. They prove not just a desire but an active conspiracy to deceive the public and help Obama into the White House.

And yet this is to be found in an article by Eric Alterman in the The Nation, in which he discusses the disappointment progressives are experiencing over Obama’s failure – as they see it – to effect a radical left transformation of America. He tries to explain the failure, and among other snags and hitches (mainly set, he insists, by the Bush administration) he finds that the mainstream media have not sufficiently supported Obama and trumpeted his successes, and that their “reflective prejudices” are against him!

Of course progressives need to keep up the pressure they have begun to place on the mainstream media not to adopt the deliberately misleading and frequently false frames foisted on readers and viewers by an increasingly self-confident and well-funded right-wing noise machine. Media Matters, FAIR and other organizations have done this in the past but it needs to be kept up. And in an age of instant, personal communication, there’s no reason it can’t be. … Done properly, such pressure is an effective means of forcing journalists to rethink some of their reflective prejudices, particularly in today’s punishing economic environment. But if progressives continue to pressure them to live up to the promises of their profession — to refuse to cater to the lowest common denominator of tabloids or the right-wing cesspool of talk radio/cable television discourse — such pressure on these organizations should strengthen reporters’ and editors’ backbones to do the kind of work that made them proud to be journalists in the first place. (This is, happily, a fundamental difference between right and left wing media criticism. The right seeks to undermine the messengers of news that does not comport with its worldview; the left wants journalism to stick to its guns and resist such pressures to color the news, believing, as Stephen Colbert once said, that the facts “have a well-known liberal bias.”) And on the positive side, we need to support those journalistic enterprises and experiments that attempt to live up to their values as it becomes harder and harder to do so, whether with subscriptions, clicks or direct donations. A campaign for taxpayer-funded high-quality journalism on the model of the BBC — and recently suggested by a study published by the Columbia School of Journalism — should not be off the table.

Alterman is apparently perfectly sure that right-wing journalists deliberately distort the news, while ever more obstacles are put in the way of straight factual reporting which would inevitably endorse liberal opinion.

One of the remedies he suggests is “taxpayer-funded journalism”. In other words, government-funded. (As were Pravda [Truth] and Izvestia [News] in the Soviet Union –  about which some Russians dared to joke that there was “no news in Truth, no truth in News”.)

Where can discourse across the political divide even begin? Any attempt at it can only be a dialogue of the deaf.

Posted under media, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, July 21, 2010

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