by Jnana Hodson
Pejorative labels do nothing to advance public discourse. Rather, they’re intended to stifle it. Even worse, they inhibit clear thinking or positive outcomes.
Consider the charge of “liberal media.” Or even “the media,” especially when used in the singular rather than the plural. In reality, American newspapers, magazines, and commercial broadcast stations have long been corporately owned, with the focus on some very profitable bottom lines. Corporations, as the epitome of capitalism, rarely fit neatly into the liberal end of the political spectrum. And so “corporate media” would be far more accurate than the “liberal media” mirage. A closer look would also find most of the editorial pages are of a conservative slant – and nearly all of the political and economic columnists syndicated in the past quarter century have been openly conservative. I’d like to hear of any liberals. In addition, in my experience, the media are highly competitive – there’s no collusion or conspiracy regarding what we’ll cover or ignore, Fox News excepted. For that matter, the media extend into the entertainment media as well – Hollywood, Nashville, Madison Avenue, and Broadway, among others.
Professional reporters and editors, meanwhile, learn to keep their own political and social views out of the way: the goal is to listen carefully and respectfully to all relevant sides of the issue and to present that as clearly as possible, especially in determining what’s new in the event being covered.
I’ve come to the conclusion that those who accuse news organizations and personnel of bias actually have no interest in objective reporting – what they want is bias, of their own right-wing persuasion or even more blatant propaganda. Ideology, rather than fact. The truth be damned, in their hearts.
Perhaps nothing should be more telling than Spiro Agnew’s rabid attacks on a free press, especially when we consider he had every reason to keep reporters off the track of his own criminal actions – and those of his boss, Richard Nixon, all the more. All the while, we covered his attacks on us verbatim and uncontested – had we been anything like he accused us of being, his words never would have seen the light of day, or blasted by critical comment as he spoke them.
If anything, I think of all the years when I willingly suppressed my own convictions – and the price that’s imposed. At last, finally out of the trade, I can truly speak and write freely.