And now we conclude this series dissecting the myth of the “liberal media”. In Part 1, we explained why the very idea of bias is misleading, distracting and somewhat irrelevant. In Part 2, we examined the supposed evidence for “liberal” bias, and found it to be a bag of air. In Part 3, we looked at real evidence of real bias, and saw very strong indication that the bias of mainstream media is quite the opposite of “liberal”. Now, finally, let’s ask: what would a truly liberal media really look like? Or rather, what would a society in which media is dominated by liberal interests look like in terms of public perceptions?
Actually, Daily Kos has already made a pretty decent stab at describing such a fantasy. In a piece (written in 2013) called “15 Things Everyone Would Know If There Were A Liberal Media”, writer David Akadjian provides some detail about the (absence of) media coverage of the following topics:
- Where the jobs went
- Upward wealth redistribution and/ or inequality
- The number of people in prison
- The number of black people in prison
- U.S. health care costs are the highest in the world
- The number of bills blocked by Republicans in Congress
- The Citizens United Supreme Court decision
- Nixon’s Southern Strategy
- Tax cuts primarily benefit the wealthy
- What’s happening to the bees?
- The impact of temporary workers on our economy
- Media consolidation
That’s a pretty good list, but there are many other items we could add. And it’s an exaggeration to say that “everyone would know” these things; there will always be a certain portion of the population that lives in a bubble, subsisting on right-wing cable TV, talk radio, websites, Facebook rumors and unhinged YouTube rants. But still, most of the public would be more aware of certain developments if the mainstream media did a better job of keeping them informed — if, in other words, the mainstream media indeed had a “liberal bias”.
Here are some of the other things that most of the public would be much more aware of:
The Stolen Election
No, not in 2020. In 2000. Official accounts of that disaster simply report that George W. Bush emerged victorious after a lengthy battle that involved the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a recount in Florida. You probably won’t hear that the Court was packed with Bush family cronies, and that their interference was unprecedented and extremely shady. And you almost certainly won’t hear about the many, many, many shenanigans that went on after, during and long before the election to tilt things in Bush’s favor. This included a purge of tens of thousands of likely Democratic voters from the rolls in Florida (where his brother just happened to be governor) and the decisions by several counties to count certain votes in violation of the law — including, for instance, some that were submitted after the deadline. And how a Republican hired mob harassed election workers conducting a recount. (The “Brooks Brothers Riot”.) And on and on and on. In all, the GOP was suspected of committing at least 60 criminal offenses during this campaign, election and post-election frenzy. They were indicted for zero of them. And the media stubbornly looked the other way. And of course, after an impartial review of the ballots in Florida revealed that Gore was in fact the likely winner, they reported just the opposite.
The Iraq Fiasco
The Cheney/ Rove/ Rumsfeld — and, very well, Bush — regime tried to justify its invasion of Iraq with a long series of lies, especially the two big ones: that Saddam was behind the 9-11 attacks, and that he was developing weapons of mass destruction. At one time, a majority of Americans swallowed these whoppers; and as recently as 2015, about 40 percent did. (The majority of Republicans probably will always believe them.) It’s a good bet that these percentages would have been much lower had the librulmedia done its job; instead, it not only failed to expose the lies, but aided and abetted them — notably so the “ultra-liberal” New York Times. With a viable “liberal media”, the public also would be much more aware of the toll of suffering the Iraqi quagmire has exacted — not only the loss of thousands of American troops, but the deaths of untold thousands (perhaps in the hundreds of thousands ) of Iraqi citizens — not to mention the maiming, destruction and trauma.
Abortion laws don’t work
Right-wingers totally dominate the public forum on the issue of abortion, as they do on everything else. Consequently, you will hear the media frame the issue in terms of whether or not one is “pro-life”; and the “debate” about abortion is expressed in terms of determining when life begins, and whether abortion constitutes killing. Meanwhile, the media almost totally ignore the two most important things to know about the issue: (a) abortion is something that everybody would prefer to avoid, and (b) banning it is not the way to do it. The average abortion rate per 100,000 women in countries where it’s fully legal is 34. The average where it’s illegal or greatly restricted is 37. Not to mention that the latter tend to be much more dangerous and traumatic. And in the U.S. alone, there is evidence that defunding Planned Parenthood causes abortion rates to rise. If the librulmedia publicized these facts better (which is to say, if they publicized them at all) it probably wouldn’t make any difference to the hardcore “pro-life” crowd, who are going to believe what they are going to believe; but it probably would prevent many denizens of the middle of the road from going along with them, and thereby enabling their dictation of policy.
But gun laws do
There is overwhelming evidence that strict gun laws help reduce crime. And there is nothing the least bit unconstitutional about them. So why are guns a matter of such fierce “debate”? Well, one reason is that the “liberal” media do a terrible job of transmitting these facts; instead, they are all too willing to air right-wing rants about the supposed evils of “gun control”.
Undocumented Immigrants are our friends
The media rhetoric about “illegal” immigrants rather consistently portrays them as a threat: they’re taking our jobs, they’re freeloaders, they’re bringing crime, etc. In reality, they commit fewer crimes than U.S. citizens and they have a net positive effect on the economy — and contrary to the persistent myth, they do pay taxes (making an especially significant contribution to Social Security). So why don’t more people know this?
The threat of climate change
It’s very, very, very, very serious. And indisputable. Yet the “liberal” media routinely participate in the right-wing strategy of treating it not only as a mere matter of opinion, but as some kind of conspiracy of deception among scientists.
It’s very common in this age of whataboutism and bothsidesim to assume, and even flatly declare, that Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Forty-Five Guy alone should be enough to lay this myth to rest — his corrupt actions in 4 years nearly surpassed those of all previous presidents combined — and a large part of the Republican Party had his back. But even if you exclude him, it’s illuminating to compare the number of crimes committed by the previous 5 Republican administrations (spanning 28 years) to those of the previous 5 Democratic administrations (also spanning 28 years).
And note that the one indictment under Obama, and two of the five under Clinton, were mere misdemeanors; if you count only felonies, the disparity is even greater. (Of course, the number of indicted and/or convicted officials is only one measure of corruption, but it’s certainly a significant one.) However you slice it, Republicans leave Democrats in the dust in the corruption derby. And the “liberal” media are not doing us any favors by ignoring and downplaying that fact.
One area, however, where Democratic administrations have surpassed GOP administrations, since at least World War II, is the economy. By just about any economic indicator. But that certainly isn’t the impression you’d get from the librulmedia. You’re more likely to hear them simply parrot the myth that Republicans are somehow better for the economy.
The Moon influence
Sun Myung Moon was the powerful and delusional leader of a global cult called the Unification Church — better known as the Moonies — which is still a presence years after his demise. Many people already have some awareness of this (they even may have been approached by Moonie cultists panhandling or proselytizing). What they probably are not aware of, however, is the extent to which the organization has influenced American politics and media. Moon founded the rabidly right-wing Washington Times, which has become the favorite newspaper among Republicanoids. The Times in turn partnered in founding OAN, which has even out-Foxed Fox to become the new favored right-wing cable network. Additionally, “Reverend” Moon and his associates have enjoyed a cozy relationship with several GOP politicians and Christian fundamentalist leaders — including Jerry Falwell, and perhaps most notably George H. W. Bush, who made a series of paid speeches to help promote some of Moon’s other propaganda outlets. The Unification Church’s many, many branches and affiliates have been benefactors of a large number of right-wing politicians, causes and organizations, including The Heritage Foundation, Liberty University and Richard Nixon in his fight against investigation over Watergate. Yet virtually the only time the “liberal” media have paid any attention to the Moonie factor was when a couple of Democrats unwittingly attended a Moon-sponsored event.
Thanks more to Hollywood filmmakers than cable news, you’ve probably heard about sex abuse, including the exploitation of minors in the Catholic and Mormon churches. But what you’ve heard is only the tip of the iceberg. And many other types of evil transpire behind those walls as well. Furthermore, churches in America are tax exempt. And in order to qualify for that privilege, they are supposed to abide by certain rules and restrictions — one of which is that the organization shall not dedicate any significant portion of its functions to political activity, and is (per the IRS) “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” But churches routinely and blatantly thumb their noses at such rules. Indeed, many of them have become little more than outlets of propaganda and disinformation, soap boxes for the most venomous and delusional right-wing narratives. (Yes, the offending ministers and congregations are, without exception, right wing.) Yet you rarely if ever hear about it from the “liberal” media. On those rare occasions, however, when the IRS decides to crack down, what you will hear in the librulmedia is right-wingers howling about “persecution of conservatives” by the IRS.
Republican scheme for minority tyranny
The biggest problem with Republicans is not that they hate Democrats, but that they hate democracy — and want to eradicate virtually every remaining trace of it. Their fervent belief is that the right to govern should belong only to the privileged few; and they have amply demonstrated that there is no line they will not cross to make this a reality — even to spreading lies about election fraud and fomenting a violent insurrection. The Electoral College, a fundamentally anti-democratic institution from its inception, has long given them an upper hand. But in recent years they have added more and more dirty tricks to their bag. This includes blocking judicial nominees from Democrats and ramming through nominees from Republicans. It includes ferocious gerrymandering. It includes purging large numbers of Democratic voters even though they’re perfectly qualified to vote. It includes passing laws that make it much more difficult to vote in Democratic neighborhoods. And increasingly, it includes passing laws that enable Republican legislatures to simply throw out election results. The final wisp of American democracy is teetering on the edge of a cliff, and the GOP is antsy to finish pushing it over. It’s unclear what can be done to stop them at this point. But it certainly doesn’t help matters that the “liberal” media downplay the threat, treating it as just another thing that “some people say”.
No doubt there are other things the public also would know if the mainstream media really had a “liberal” bias. Chances are you can come up with one or two yourself. Additionally, there would be many things the public would not believe. They would not put stock, for example, in the silly right-wing “culture war” narratives that include such household catch phrases as “critical race theory”, “wokeism” and “war on Christmas”.
In summary, “liberal bias”, if it existed, would be quite justified; nonetheless, the purported evidence for it is flimsy to nonexistent; on the other hand, the evidence for right-wing bias is very strong; and mainstream media does not, by any stretch, serve the needs of the American Left.
Despite all this, however, it’s probably not wise to expect the myth of the “liberal media” to die a long overdue death in your lifetime.