Keith Harris – 4/9/10

Among the necessary components of a functioning democracy is a free and effective media. This is unfortunately not the case in modern America. The mainstream media only offers voice to a tiny spectrum of political viewpoints and suppresses those stories which will not further said viewpoints.

A discussion of media bias inevitably leads to use of the term "liberal media." It is a term of politicians and conservatives in general. It is, however, an absolutely nonsensical notion. To fully appreciate the ridiculous nature of the idea of the liberal media, one must first separate liberalism from the Democratic party. Granted, some major media institutions seem to favor Democrats, but this is not the same as being liberal.

The New York Times is often cited by conservatives as being print journalism’s incarnation of the liberal media, but how liberal are they? The vast majority of their columnists continue to support the war in Afghanistan. This is along with several other views that are moderate, if not outright conservative.

Many critics of the so-called liberal media are offended by the fact that most institutions, Fox notwithstanding, don’t liken Barack Obama’s policies to those of a socialist. Some stations, like MSNBC, go so far as to defend Obama’s policies. However, no member of the mainstream media ever so much as entertains the idea that socialism is not an inherent evil.

This is one of the greatest problems with American journalism–it is so highly dependant on corporate sponsorship that no forum can succeed if it questions the merit of capitalism or gives support to those who do. As such, the media is necessarily biased to those who best serve capitalist interests. These are those individuals and groups occupying the rightmost section of the political spectrum. Because there is so little division in modern American politics, these can be members of either the Democratic or Republican parties.

There are certain instances when media forums break from this formula, namely those rare occasions when either Democrats and Republicans break from their parties and go against corporate instances. Democrat Dennis Kucinich and Republican Ron Paul are two such individuals. Both men have been vocally opposed to American intervention in the Middle East. It is, then, no surprise that both were largely ignored by the media during their presidential runs in 2008. Although each enjoyed early success, they received little media exposure and, as such, stood little chance in the elections. The case of Kucinich is possibly the most appalling. Even though he did very well in early debates, he was denied the opportunity to appear in many of those taking place later on. By not including Kucinich in those debates, the media was able to silence those ideas deemed too radical; nationalized health care, withdrawal from the Middle East, etc.

The effects of a corporate controlled media are obvious. The average member of the American public only has access to that information which is considered acceptable by the mainstream media. As such, most Americans only know enough to encourage them to keep feeding the system. How many Americans know that the American government forced the democratically elected president of Haiti out of office? How many know how many civilian deaths have occurred in Iraq as a result of the U.S. presence? This is information without which no productive political system can exist. And yet, the media, driven as it is by profit, has largely kept this information under wraps.

There is undeniably a problem with media bias in America, but it has nothing to do with partisanship. It is just another result of the mindset which places profit over people.