As a college student back in the stone ages, one bumper sticker I always saw plenty of when attending Republican events said “CBS is Rather Biased.” Well, it wasn’t the stone ages, but it was during the Reagan years, which now seems in so many ways ages ago. The point is that conservatives have complained about media bias for decades.
An egregious example of media bias just played out in the Van Jones story – one I believe highlights a major shift in the mainstream media. First though, a bit of background is worth considering.
Conservatives have not only complained about media bias, but for many years have attempted to achieve balance in the mainstream media in various ways.
Watchdog groups like Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center have identified, tracked and catalogued liberal media bias hoping to shame those in the mainstream media into at least attempting the appearance of balance. Alternative media have emerged to do some of the reporting those in the mainstream media have refused to do, at times even forcing those traditional news outlets to cover the stories themselves.
Rush Limbaugh’s incredibly popular syndicated talk radio show was one of the first big successes for conservatives trying to get their message past the mainstream media. More recently, the rise of the internet and Fox News Channel have enabled stories ignored by the mainstream media to reach a mass audience.
One hope conservatives have had all along was that those in the mainstream media would be shamed into covering stories that those in alternative media exposed. That hope has unfortunately seldom been realized.
With the commercial success of Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News Channel, conservatives hoped those in the mainstream media would see the market for a conservative viewpoint and would add that perspective to their coverage, or at least tone down their liberal slant. If shame didn’t work, maybe the power of the profit motive would. Evidently some things are more important to NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and MSNBC than money, and those things are not truth and fairness.
As those network news organizations hemorrhaged viewers, Fox News Channel grew to not only be the number one cable news channel, but to often outperform its cable rivals several fold.