Just a few decades ago journalism in this country was actually about reporting the facts. Yes, journalists may have leaned to the Left, but at least reporters made an effort to be fair. Today, journalists are more interested in "making a difference" than in any antiquated standards and they play by PRAVDA rules. Every news story is filtered through an ideological prism and instead of asking who, what, when, how, and why, the stories are framed around a simple rule: How can we hurt the Right and help the Left?
Granted, there are a handful of exceptions like the late, great Tim Russert. ABC's Jake Tapper may also lean to the Left, but he at least seems to make an effort to be impartial. That being said, objective journalism is for all intents and purposes now dead in the United States. What that means is that you not only have to pay attention to the story the mainstream media's giving you, but you've also got to try to figure out how they're spinning the story. If you don't understand the story AND the slant, you don't understand the story. So, with that in mind, here are just some of the mainstream media's favorite tricks.
1) Leaving out context. The enormous amount of attention the Shirley Sherrod story has gotten is ironic, in that the story is that a liberal's comments were taken out of context the same way conservative comments are taken out of context every day of the week. As a matter of habit, the conservative side of the story is under-represented, buried, or even completely left out of most articles in the mainstream media. That's why there is a vast and thriving new media on the Right: because the mainstream media only provides half of the story and people have to go elsewhere to get the whole truth.
2) Sloppy errors that hurt conservatives. Nine times out of ten, if a mainstream media outlet gets a story wrong, it will either help liberals or hurt conservatives. Very seldom will you see an "honest mistake" that makes a liberal look bad. That's because they'll double and triple check anything that hurts their own side. When it comes to conservatives, fact checking isn't a big concern for most mainstream media outlets -- and good luck getting a correction. If you do, it'll be grudging and given a few weeks after the article comes out. By then, dozens of liberal bloggers will have repeated the story -- and they seldom let the facts get in the way of a good slam on conservatives.