|Friday, July 23, 2004
16:34 - Now I'm a believer
Back in April, I was fairly skeptical of the whole media-bias meme. I hadn't read the relevant exposés on the subject; and what's more, I hadn't paid much attention to the big media outlets for a long time, so I figured I didn't have a basis for judgment. But I did still get Newsweek, and I guess at the time I still hadn't been in a habit of reading it with an eye out for unfair characterizations. I looked at each issue in a vacuum, and ignored any trends I might have noticed in what they chose to cover week upon week. So I never really noticed anything untoward.
But I'd begun by that time to suspect that the rumors I'd heard were true; what with dishonesty scandals breaking from CNN to the New York Times, I figured I'd best start narrowing my eyes a little harder at the pages I casually flipped through while in the bathroom.
So on 4/30, I posted this:
The way I see it, there are two possibilities for what Newsweek will use as the world-shattering cover story on next week's issue:
1) UNSCAM. [The story then about a week old]
2) This. [The Abu Ghraib story, which had just broken]
Ooh! Ooh! I know! Teacher pick me!
Looking back on this naïve version of myself, from three months on, I can only sit and ruefully laugh. How could I even have imagined that a scandal in which the UN thoroughly disgraced itself and deflated any lingering presuppositions of its humanitarianism and extranational integrity might be able to upstage a story about some bored National Guardsmen fucking up in a war-zone prison? What made me think they would even be in the same ballpark? As I wrote the post, I half-expected to be proven wrong—that the media would blow the cover off UNSCAM, recognizing the truly monstrous level of global-scale betrayal that it implied, and realizing the pointlessness and inherent divisiveness of spending too much time on Abu Ghraib. I actually thought the mainstream media would see UNSCAM as the bigger story, put aside pretensions of kingmaking, and do its job.
Even three months ago I had no idea, quite honestly, how firmly these media organs had planted their flags.
Oh, the disillusionment.
So now Dean asks:
Rather Biased notes that CBS news has run exactly one story on Sandy Berger and that it sided with Berger. It ran one story on Joe Wilson's recent credibility problems, and suggested he was the victim of a smear job. It has run not one single story on the UN Oil-for-Food scandal, or about Jamie Gorelick. But it has found the time to run 80 stories about Iraqi prisoner abuse and 29 on Wilson's accusations of Republican malfeasance.
Why do people even bother watching CBS news?
The April version of me might have feebly tried to suggest something about how maybe the color scheme in Dan Rather's tie is better than Tom Brokaw's, or something; but today? I think the answer's pretty damn obvious:
Because it's fundamentally dishonest and partisan. Which is what the viewership demands.