My father awakens at 4:00 each weekday, as he has since I was a child, and spends an hour thoroughly reviewing and then neatly putting the paper back together in its original order. After he left for work, the rest of us took turns at the morning news over our bowls of cereal, but, admittedly, were not as fastidious about reassembling the newspaper. When I moved to California, after ordering electricity, telephone and gas, I subscribed to the “Los Angeles Times” – thus, beginning a new generation of household newspaper subscribers in our family.
A few years ago, I returned to Portland. During my first breakfast at home, I collected the neatly re-organized newspaper and began my daily read. A few pages into the front page section, I realized that I was no longer in liberal L.A., but in a place where conservative viewpoints were virtually verboten and could find scant evidence of balanced, unbiased journalism.
During the 2008 Obama campaign “The Oregonian” became so biased for Obama that I felt the word “advertisement” should appear on every news and Op-Ed page. Eventually, the only section of the “Obama-gonian,” as I now refer to it, I found to be accurate and unprejudiced was the television log.
(A few years ago, the paper’s only conservative commentator left and now there is no respectful disagreement or counterpoint to the often egregious errors or Obama favoritism.)
Obama-gonians and Bias
I’m certain that my hometown paper’s liberal bent is not unique, but decided to verify that observation. What I discovered corroborated my views:
According to the Media Research Center, the American Society of Newspaper Editors found that liberals outnumber conservatives by a four-to-one ratio; newspaper editors admit that 71% of reporters sometimes/often influence coverage and in 2008, 70% of Americans said journalists wanted Barack Obama to win the election.
Even more disturbing:
“Nearly nine out of ten Americans (89%) think reporters “often” or “sometimes” let their own political preferences influence the way they report the news” – Media Research Center
In the April 4, 2010 Sunday edition of “The Oregonian,” I glanced at the Op-Ed section. In the right-hand “Short Takes” column, there were a few gems that are representative of the daily Op-Ed features and letters to the editor:
“Tea parties and militias: When being Republican just isn’t narrow-minded enough.” Randy Bynum, Southwest Portland
“Would it not be a welcoming change if the tea partiers focused their attention on out-of-control federal spending, insufficient taxation [your eyes did not deceive you, this contributor wrote “insufficient taxation”] and needed banking reforms instead of racial hatred, homophobia and acts of violence?” Gene H. McIntyre, Keizer, OR.FYI, Gene: this is the (generally accepted) tea party movement platform: “fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, less government, states' rights and national security.” Source: Fox News. Yes, Fox News – get over it.
Tempest in a Tea Party
Based on the iconic Boston Tea Party of 1733 when colonists rebelled against an oppressive government and taxation without representation, the Tea Partiers of today are often misrepresented by mainstream media, as noted by Mr. McIntyre, and portrayed as racist, homophobic and violent.
Of course, the media isn’t alone in its dark view of conservative protest: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the protestors are like Nazis and a senior aide circulated a document regarding their rallies: “…the tea parties are "not really all about average citizens," the document continues, saying neo-Nazis, militias, secessionists and racists are attending them.”
Obviously, the defamation of the conservative activist isn’t confined to a politically compromised media; it rains down from the highest levels in the Washington bureaucracy. Perhaps Washington liberals are in a panic as they observe the expanding crowds at rallies, the newly-vocal conservative dissenter at Town Hall meetings, the peaceful, but passionate troops at national and local marches. Certainly, there were people who acted inappropriately – one can find fringe elements or bad behavior in any large group. While that’s not an excuse, the truth is these incidents are the exception and not the norm.
Only one major news outlet is consistently friendly and fair to conservative issues: the much maligned by the left, Fox News Channel. Interestingly, Fox News Channel earned its highest ratings ever in the first quarter of 2010.
Fair and Balanced – and Killing the Liberal Competition
Fox News has ruled the cable news genre for years; CNN, formerly the “Most Trusted Name in News,” lost half its audience in the latest cable rankings. “Larry King Live” lost 43% of his audience and other CNN programs also saw a double-digit loss in viewership. MSNBC is in the cable news ratings basement:
Total Day: FNC – 1,105,000 viewers, CNN – 394,000 viewers, MSNBC – 369,000 viewers
Prime Time: FNC – 2,032,000 viewers, CNN – 503,000 viewers, MSNBC –680,000 viewers (Source: Nielsen, reported by TVByTheNumbers.com)
Granted, the Op-Ed “Short Takes” and Letters to the Editor are not written by the paper’s reporters, but by its readers. The examples quoted in this blog are not unique; the authors’ opinions are seemingly representative of the average Portland reader or at least, these are the letters and comments that The Obama-gonian deems fit to print.
My hometown has a strong liberal bias (a favorite bumper sticker: “Keep Portland Weird”), but is the bias perpetuated and supported by local media or is the media accurately reflecting the political mindset of the community? Since the reportage and reader input tilts far to the left and pollsters confirm that the media leans liberal offers a perplexing paradigm of politics and journalism.
This much is clear: the most conservative-friendly news outlet is the pre-eminent news source in America. Almost all of the national polling companies tell us that the media has a liberal bias and Americans believe they will use that bias to influence their reports. These same pollsters tell us that our current president’s approval ratings are steadily dropping, and faith in our Congressional leaders has faltered.
My liberal neighbors denounce “Faux News Channel” as a wing of the Republican Party and accuse the network of political partiality. However, the polls, as well as the emergence of multitudes of marchers, protestors and tea parties tell a different story.
I guess we’re just not on the same page … yet.
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