The Truth About Bias and the News

Author: Eric Alterman
Publisher: Basic Books
February 2003

>From Barnes & Noble Editors
According to Bernard Goldberg, Bill O'Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh, liberals control the media. In fact, that claim has been a popular standard for conservative thinkers and politicians for decades. In What Liberal Media? media columnist Eric Alterman takes the war into the enemy's camp, pursuing an aggressive investigation into the intrinsically conservative nature of the U.S. news. Naming names and lobby groups, he profiles the real newsmakers behind and beyond the cameras.

>From the Publisher
"The question of whose interests the media protects - and how - has achieved holy-grail-like significance. Is media bias keeping us from getting the whole story? If so, who is at fault? Is it the liberals who are purported to be running the newsrooms, television and radio stations of this country, duping an unsuspecting public into mistaking their party line for news? Or is it the conservatives who have identified media bias as a reliably inflammatory rallying cry around which to consolidate their political base as they cynically "work the refs?" The media has become so pervasive in our lives that regardless of exactly where on the ideological fence you sit, the question of media bias has become all but unavoidable." "Most of the criticism (and anger) has so far emanated from the political Right, which has offered us the rather unconvincing argument that a systematic Left bias is destroying the quality of news and debate in our country today. Journalist and historian Eric Alterman begs to differ." What Liberal Media? confronts the question of liberal bias and, in so doing, provides a sharp and utterly convincing assessment of the realities of political bias in the news. In distinct contrast to the conclusions reached by Ann Coulter, Bernard Goldberg, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly, Alterman finds the media to be, on the whole, far more conservative than liberal, though it is possible to find evidence for both views. The fact that conservatives howl so much louder and more effectively than liberals is one significant reason that big media is always on its guard for "liberal" bias but gives conservative bias a free pass.

Right-wing politicians and commentators have been complaining about the "liberal media" so loudly that many have taken the construction to be a truism. Journalist Alterman argues that most of them don't even truly believe their own assertion and asserts that in fact the media really displays a conservative bias. He describes the "punditocracy" as unabashedly right wing (think Bill O'Reilly) and examines the very different media treatments given to Al Gore versus George W. Bush. He also details examples of social and economic bias that turn up so often in the media.