Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pure Media Shun.

Note: Since this article is dealing with Bias and Inaccuracy in Media, we here at the Whitworthian understand it is pivotal that the aforementioned article not be tainted by any facts. Any facts that slip through will be summarily executed by our team of crack fact-checkers

I don’t know about you, but when I was a preteen, I had glossy posters of all my idols sticky-tacked to my bedroom wall. You know, Peter Jennings, Wolf Blitzer, Geraldo Rivera, Ron Burgandy and Richard Brown.

It was those heroes in the media who nicked Nixon, depantsed Clinton, and got the skinny on Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Thanks to the ever-vigilant voyeurism of the media, no politician’s gaffe goes unpunished, no celebrity’s flub goes uncaptured, no Attractive Young Middle Class White Woman’s Murder goes unprobed.

In fact some consider the Media America’s Fourth Estate, mainly because Ted Turner earns so much land.

One must heed what the Bible says, however: With Great Power comes Great Responsibility. (1 Parker 4:17)

As anybody who has taken Writing for Mass Media knows, the judicious journalist cannot allow his own personal bias to creep into his writing. “The proper term is ‘Mayor of Spokane’” my teacher would say, “not ‘Chief Doody-head’” (It later turned out he was a doody-head, but that’s beside the point)

That nagging suspicion remains however. What if the media isn’t just a group of mindless automatons, spitting out Impartial Facts and Objective Truth. What if it is composed of men and women like you and me, with their own opinions and presuppositions and idiosyncrasies?

I have some Objective Truth and Impartial Fact for you: The Media is Biased. How do I know this? Because they sometimes the “facts” they report disagree with my opinions. Most of the Media is biased towards moral equivalence and liberal orthodoxy. Fox News is biased towards being totally awesome. The Whitworthian is biased towards typos. (The Whitworthian had a display in the HUB with a quote about the power of the press from “Newies.” Ah yes, Newies. It must be the forthcoming prequel to the Disney flick , Newsies.”)

But a topic this pivotal, this self-aggrandizing, cannot be contained within the puny walls of a single article! In the first of this two part series we shall examine Liberal Media Bias, and in the second, Fox News Bias.

Oh, generally the Liberal Media remains perfectly neutral. Nauseatingly neutral.

Instead of calling a person who blows up a bus in a crowded market a terrorist, the media chooses to call him an “insurgent” or a “freedom fighter” or a “rambunctious youth” or a “guy who had a bad case of the Mondays.”

They don’t want to make any value statements. And so everything is equal, there is no right and wrong, and with just a little bit a love and a whole lot of understanding, we could buy the world a coke and teach the world to sing.

“The Military Domain of Slaughtervokya may be in their twenty-seventh year of famine, disease, and genocidal civil war, but America has their own troubles with, like, Medicare and stuff,” the media says, “Who are we to judge which way is better!”

The way with fewer heads on bloodied pikes, I would presume.

Of course, all this wonderfully nuanced unpartisan talks dies down when it comes to social and political issues.

Polls indicate that in the 2004 Presidential election 70% percent of journalists voted for John Kerry, 17% voted for Noam Chomsky, and the remaining 13% voted for Bill Clinton.

They sure love that guy.

Unfortunately, sometimes this bias manifests itself subtly, like a pimple poking its red head bashfully through your forehead. A given economic indicator during the tyrannical reign of commander-in-thief George W. Bush might be described as “ominous” “frumpy” or “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” But that same economic data during the fun-loving, idyllic Clinton-topia years might be described as “effervescent” or “swanky.”

Presuppositions also dictate how closely a journalist will doubt a source. An informant revealing flaws in a liberal program (like Social Security or the Presbyterian Church) will be fact-checked, double-checked, analyzed, scrutinized, interrogated, denigrated, and cavity searched. For stories involving the bumbles of Bush’s buddies, however, the media prefers to use unnamed sources, meaning bumper stickers they saw on the way to work, magic 8 balls, or Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

“A high placed administrative source who asked not to be named described America’s foreign policy as “Visionary and nuanced… for [him] to poop on!”

There’s also the question of whether journalists can accurately report news in places like Iraq, when most of what they do is sit in the Baghdad Hotel and watch Al-Jehami, the Wonder Camel on Iraqi cable. “Troubling developments,” therefore, means stale food at the continental breakfast, “disappointing progress” means that the temperature of the Jacuzzi is subpar and “quagmire” means that the toilet is backed up.

So in this world full of contradictory viewpoints, hazy facts, biases, spin, and outright lies, who are we to believe? Who can truly know right from wrong? Who truly knows what is truth and what is fabrication?

I do. Just ask me.