Veteran CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg set off a firestorm of controversy when he authored a Wall St. Journal Op-Ed that stated what many believed was obvious. His contention that the mainstream media was biased toward the left struck many as a certainty, but the management of CBS was not among them. 'Bias' covers the days and months after the column was published, the reaction by his colleagues and managers, as well as a more thorough analysis of the media's reporting habits.
Reknowned for its history of credible reporting (epitomized by Edward R. Murrow), CBS turned a blind eye to Goldberg's critique and, instead of examining the issue, attacked the messenger with callous disregard. Goldberg, a self-described liberal who had never voted Republican, soon found himself without a role at CBS and eventually without a job.
What is most shocking about this tale is not the overwhelming evidence that the media consistently sides with liberal causes, but the brutality with which CBS management attacked him. You'd imagine a network that promotes whistle-blowing in every segment of business and government (e.g., 60 Minutes) would be willing to examine its own industry. But you'd be wrong. Led by the cult of Dan (Rather), who wields considerable force among the head honchos, CBS overreacted with an astounding pattern of official denials and sanctioned counter-attacks.
Goldberg carefully examines the hot-button issues of the last two decades: AIDS, homelessness, and terrorism among them. He notes the spin, the politicization and the woeful omissions that, while newsworthy, won't sell advertising. For example, Goldberg found it interesting that homelessness in the country apparently ceased to exist when Bill Clinton took office (especially amazing, since it started the day Reagan was sworn in), based upon an analysis of mainstream media coverage. He eulogizes AIDS activist Randy Shilts, who was, "...courageous enough to say that despite what the media were telling America, AIDS was not 'The Killer Next Door'."
And he points out the double standard applied to journalists like USA Today columnist Julianne Malveaux, who publicly hoped for Clarence Thomas' death; or NPR's Nina Totenberg, who expressed a desire that Jessie Helms (or his grandchildren) contract AIDS. If a conservative journalist advocated similar fates for Jessie Jackson or Ted Kennedy, they'd be out of a job in seconds flat.
Goldberg closes with a careful look at how the media treats terrorism, Islam as a whole, and the Palestinian position regarding Israel. Simply put, the facts of the situation do not reflect what the media has been reporting. And in this, the age of nuclear terrorism, the omissions are truly stunning.
The only bone to pick with the book is that it could use a few more cold, hard statistics. Goldberg's argument is strongest when he uses tables to back his contentions. But, despite this, 'Bias' is a fast, enlightening read that should be read by every American who watches the news.
If you already believe in the media's liberal bias, you'll enjoy the anecdotes and statistics that support your contention. And if you don't believe it, read the latest peer-reviewed study of the issue* and then read this book. You might just gain a different perspective on the matter.
* See "A Measure of Media Bias", UCLA & University of Chicago, Sept. 2003
Oh, and Al Franken: you just got BITCH SLAPPED*
Try to spin these statistics, putz.
"'The mainstream media does not have a liberal bias. . . . ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, the New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek and the rest -- at least try to be fair.' --Al Franken. (2003) Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
The main conclusion of our paper is that our results simply reject such claims."
A Measure of Media Bias, Tim Groseclose, Department of Political Science, UCLA, and Graduate School of Business, Stanford University; Jeff Milyo, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, September 2003
* "Bitch-slapped" is the term Franken used with his weak attack on Goldberg's book, when he found a flaw in the analysis of a single John Chancellor quote. This is typical of Franken's tortured logic, which -- once again -- was about as accurate and successful as his liberal radio network.