Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman
DEAR INDEPENDENT’S EYE: I am 5 years old and my brother is helping type this. Some of my little friends on the playground in my kindergarten class say the media is a liberal media and that leaks from an Internet journalist list proved it conspired to hurt Republicans and promote Barack Obama. Papa says: “If you see it on Fox News, read about it on a conservative website or hear it on EIB it must be so.” Please tell me the truth: is the media a liberal media conspiring prevent Republicans and Conservatives from being elected?
246 Cutsie Drive
Utica, New York
VIRIGINA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the partisanship of a highly partisan age. Many people today on both sides don’t believe except what they hear from people who already agree with them on political issues. They think that nothing can be which is not found on their favorite talk show, said by their favorite pundit or declared in an outraged (what else?) post by a blogger who thinks the way they do. These days most minds, Virginia, are fiercely partisan. This morning my cat looked at me and hissed: “You’re a CLINO. Cat Lover In Name Only.”
No, Virginia, there is no monolithic liberal media plotting to keep this candidate or that or any party out of office. For years I worked overseas, reporting for the media from places such as New Delhi and Madrid. I worked closely with my stateside editors. I later was a staff reporter on newspapers owned by Knight Ridder (Wichita) and Copley (San Diego). News gathering is far too complex for such organized conspiracies and it’s fiercely competitive. Most newspapers separate editorial page operations from news operations. Your little friends may be referring in particular to the furor over the Journolist email list that Ezra Klein created and later deleted.
The Journolist furor revealed the sometimes inappropriate, irreverent banter that journalists for generations indulged in over beers, only this time on cyberspace on what they thought was a private list. They should have known better. Human beings have beliefs but most trained journalists hold them in check while doing their job of gathering news for that clip or sound bite that can propel them to greater career advancement. It is not in their career interest to conspire with the competition.
No, Virginia, there is no monolithic liberal media. And those who try to generalize Journolist are doing so for their own political reasons. But keep in mind that both sides attack the media when they don’t like a story unfavorable to their side, then praise and quote it when it favors them. Right and left bloggers diss the mainstream media while cutting and pasting work done by its paid professional news staffers; if you slice away mainstream media material from blogs, many would have little content. Print media originally didn’t take Internet news coverage seriously and has downsized — which means less content for bloggers to cut and paste without paying.
To believe in a media conspiracy you might as well believe that President Barack Obama was born in another country, Joan Rivers never had a facelift, or that Dennis Kucinich is destined to be President. Your Papa can document a liberal slant by pointing to some stories but that doesn’t prove a small conspiracy, let alone a big one. If you think the media is “liberal,” just ask folks on the Daily Kos or liberal politicians who insist the media is controlled by conservative corporations ““ and they’re not just talking about Fox.
Also, Virginia, in answer to your second email, no: the two talk show hosts your father made you listen to didn’t only go as far asÂ kindergarten. They went as far as high school and only sound as if they only went as far as kindergarten.
PS: In answer to your last email: no Virginia there is no Sponge Bob Squarepants. But there is a John McCain Panderpants.
Copyright 2010 Joe Gandelman
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be booked to speak at your event at www.mavenproductions.com. Follow Joe Gandelman on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joegandelman