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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, March 19, 2003



There Is No Liberal Media Bias

Eric Alterman is a genius, and all is well with the world. The NY Times Sunday Book Review has finally gotten around to "WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA? The Truth About Bias and the News" by Eric Alterman. Excerpts:

''What Liberal Media?'' issues a riposte to the notion that a vast left-wing conspiracy controls America's airwaves and newsprint... [It has] important things to say.

...Alterman is ready for a bar fight, and he comes out swinging.

...In fact, Alterman argues, the bias is hard to find. The Times was hardly soft on the Clinton administration, chasing after Whitewater for years, and The Washington Post has been slouching rightward for some time.

...it would be strengthened if it examined liberal shortcomings more forcefully -- why is it that liberals fare badly on live radio and on television? That is a difficult but important question. Still, ''What Liberal Media?'' is bold, counterintuitive and cathartic.


Fine, and a Happy Valentine's Day to you as well. Unmentioned are any of the objections raised by other critics, or my own questions - what about NPR, what about the NY Times, what about the network news, what is a liberal, and so on. And who provided this puff piece, anyway?

Checking the bio provided at the end of the review, we learn the following:

Ted Widmer is the director of the C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College in Chestertown, Md.

Fascinating. But checking this bio, provided in an earlier NY Times column, suggests the the Times is aware that the author has a slightly more interesting background:

Ted Widmer, director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, was director of speechwriting at the National Security Council from 1997 to 2000.

Oh, well then, a former Clinton administration speechwriter supports the notion that the media lacks a liberal bias. Did April Fools Day come early this year? Or perhaps Mr. Widmer is non-partisan? That would hardly explain his comment here:

...[Joe Klein] lapses into a lazy, hindsighted jeremiad on terrorism, faulting Mr. Clinton for his 1998 attack against Osama bin Laden (as so many Republicans did at the time), then claiming that Mr. Clinton did little to fight this invisible scourge. In fact, he did far more than any previous President, though Congress made it difficult, and massive public indifference made it harder still.

Yes, massive public indifference despite Clinton's obsession, which we had fun with a month ago.

Set a thief to catch a thief - maybe. Set a liberal to find liberal media bias? Maybe not.


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