Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Myth of the Mainstream Media

My brother has some thoughts on the facts and fictions of the way we get our news.

I’m so tired of hearing the right (especially Fox) go on about “the mainstream media” (erroneously abbreviated as MSM). It’s long past time to call them on it. Perhaps in the 60’s it made some sense, but in the era of cable TV (since the 80s) and even more so in the era of the internet (since the 90s) it’s just silly.

On TV, ABC, CBS, and NBC are losing viewership day-by-day to the hundreds of cable choices, and to Fox (now part of the “big four”). Fox News is the leading cable news network — or so they say over and over. Fox also has a business channel, and seemingly hundreds of sports channels. There are more new Christian channels showing up every day (I think DirecTV carries something like 12 of them). And groups like the 700 Club and others buy time on other commercial channels at all hours of the day and night. The era of a small few from the left dominating TV is long since gone.

For newspapers, Rupert Murdoch owns the second highest circulation daily paper in the country, and the one with the most influence on the business world: the Wall Street Journal. He also owns New York’s (the US’s largest newspaper market) second highest circulation paper. And he owns dozens of others nationwide. Many of the other major papers nationwide are owned by firmly Republican ownership. And let’s not forget Investor’s Business Daily, or Barrons, or Forbes, or Fortune, or US News, or … The print world is awash in right-leaning publications.

For radio, talk on the radio has been dominated by the right, starting long ago with Rush and now with dozens of other imitators. As the right loves to gloat, the left’s attempts to counter have been dismal failures. The major city I live in has three full-time right wing talk stations, and one that runs a couple of hours a day of left talk. Radio talk is clearly dominated by the right.

In the wild west of the internet, no one has a monopoly. Matt Drudge’s site is one of the busiest political sites on the web, but there are dozens from all sides of the aisle (and all the way out to the extremes and beyond…). I think anyone can agree that, if you think it’s a “story” some clown has posted it on the internet — from the left or right — and anyone, anywhere can see it.

So can we stop all this, “it’s all the mainstream media’s fault” pooh? The fact is that, even the left wing media would love to have a juicy story on a left wing candidate if it would drive up ratings. If Obama wasn’t really a US citizen you don’t think it would be the biggest story in US history, regardless of the outlet?

The reason the stories you want to see don’t get the publicity you think they deserve is because they aren’t stories. The reason your guy lost is because he ran a lousy campaign. And, frankly, the Democrats have had so much practice at lousy campaigns, it’s really easy (and fun) for us to tell.