Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News
by Bernard Goldberg
Regnery Publishing, Inc
Just to make sure everyone is in full possession of the facts, lets review them before going on:
Ronald Reagan caused the homeless problem when he took office; Bill Clinton ended it when he was sworn in.
Heterosexual AIDS cases are rapidly gaining in number among monogamous, non-needle sharing adults.
Affirmative action is a viable, •colorblind• system of assisting minorities, and anyone who disagrees is a racist.
If you are one of the dwindling numbers of people who rely on network news – meaning Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and crew to deliver your information each day – the above statements make perfect sense, and agree with what you have “heard” over the years. If, on the other hand, you don•t take the talking heads’ word as gospel, then you realize that all of the above statements are crap. Yes, the number of homeless people increased under Reagan – but more importantly, the number of news stories about them skyrocketed. When Clinton was elected, coverage dropped to almost nothing. Did the problem go away? No. Only the Republican did. This is a single example out of many that illustrates a notion that many people have held for years – that the people who deliver our news are doing so with a liberal bias, slanted with a viewpoint that is far out of touch with most of the country.
Bernard Goldberg should know. He worked for CBS (and Dan Rather) for over 20 years, writing stories and appearing on-air. For years he attempted to open a dialogue about this topic “in house,” and while he found people who agreed with him, nothing ever changed. Frustrated by years of inaction, he wrote an editorial in The Wall Street Journal decrying the situation. Suddenly, he became the black sheep of network news, and worse for his career, he pissed off Dan Rather, a situation that seems akin to kicking Darth Vader in the groin. The outcome of all of this is this book, and while speaking out seemed to have ruined Goldberg•s broadcasting career, the book is a welcome addition to the debate of fairness in the media.
Goldberg shows just how out of touch most journalists are by simply showing the numbers. The majority of network journalists are liberal Democrats – 89% of them voted for Clinton, far more than the 43% of voters who did. This would not be a problem if they were able to simply report the news – all the news. But instead they play up stories, such as the heterosexual AIDS “crisis,” in order to promote agendas dear to their hearts. In this case, instead of simply stating that in fact, AIDS transmission between heterosexuals who did not have high-risk partners or engage in the swapping of needles was so low as to be almost uncountable and that people who got the disease had made lifestyle choices that endangered their health, they instead trumped up the coverage (or lied about it outright) showing that mainstream America was at risk. Why would they do this? Because they realize that most people would balk at increased funding to cure an illness that affects people they consider “different” that have brought the trouble on themselves.
In most cases, the bias is not as simple to verify, but the next time you watch the news, take this test. When a story features members of Congress, watch how they are identified. Tom Daschle will simply be a “Democratic Senator” while any Republican will have their name prefaced with the term “conservative,” as if that was abnormal. It occurs so frequently that most viewers are likely blind to it. This is called indoctrination, and it would stink no matter which side did it. Talk radio is just as biased leaning the other direction – extremely right-wing hosts such as Neal Boortz or Rush Limbaugh whip listeners into a frenzy with fear-mongering tales of the “leftist, socialist Democrats” stealing our liberty and money. It’s no different than what Dan Rather does each night in prime time. It’s done for exactly the same ends – to influence public opinion, to promote a viewpoint like a missionary.
In his book Breach Of Faith author Theodore White described the change in public thought between generations. To those of us who grew up after Watergate, government has always been considered to be corrupt. Our parents’ generation largely believed in the government, and trusted it to have our best interests at heart. Our children’s generation has always lived in a world where presidents lied, Congress was bought and sold to the highest bidder, and welfare is a term only associated with teenage mothers. They certainly won’t learn the truth in public schools. Truths that include, for instance, that Richard Nixon wasn’t the first corrupt President, simply the first in recent memory to get caught. If they watched the news and listened to their teachers, they would think that the worst thing Bill Clinton ever did was fool around with an intern, instead of letting military technology float into Chinese hands. They would accept as gospel that Reagan personally drove around dropping homeless people off on street corners, and ignore the entire “Iran-Contra” scandal. They grow up being taught (by either Dan Rather or their civics teacher) that the role of government is to “take care of people,” and that this includes racial quotas for schooling, laws to “protect” the handicapped by forcing new (private) home construction to be “handicapped friendly,” or by taking increasingly large amounts of our income to pay for welfare programs to either poor mothers or rich corporations.
Goldberg points out that ever since 60 Minutes actually turned a profit, networks have viewed their news departments as another source of revenue, and thus focus on stories that keep us from flipping the channel – ones that are “entertaining” (such as Monica Lewinsky) vs. those that actually might make a difference in our lives (such as campaign reform or Middle East anti-American hostilities). By doing so, they say what is important, and what the tenor of public debate will be. Of course, it is simple to bypass such propaganda by opening up a Web browser and searching for less mainstream news sources, but how many people take the time to do that? While it is doubtful that this book will change anyone’s mind about what they see on television, it will hopefully make a few parents pause before spouting “Ratherisms” at their children. Or so one could hope.
Regnery Publishing: http://www.regnery.com