Eric Alterman does his homework. The widely acclaimed media columnist, critic and author with an astounding resume (fellow at Center for American Progress, Senior Fellow at World Policy Institute, multi-award winning author, graduate of Cornell, Yale and Stanford…) has tackled the huge subject of media bias with a powerhouse book so filled with thoroughly researched documentation and references, you cannot help but feel overwhelmed at the scope of What Liberal Media?
With the passion, wit and intellect of a great social commentator and solid journalist who still believes in presenting the facts, Alterman, who also wrote When Presidents Lie: Deception and Its Consequences, dissects the ridiculous argument by the right wing that the liberal left controls the media. With authority, professionalism and an in-your-face “here are the facts, Jack” attitude, this book blasts holes through the tired and worn-out “left-leaning” claim and shows exactly how, and why, the exact opposite is true. The media is biased towards the right, folks, and this book proves it hands down.
From the powerful introduction that lays out the foundation for Alterman’s decision to write the book amid claims of liberal bias by such clearly right-wing authors as Bernard Goldberg and the somewhat unstable Ann Coulter, the first chapter begins the attack on the media by taking a close look at the ownership behind individual media outlets, and how that ownership often directly affects the direction taken by a given newspaper, radio show or television show. There is plenty of fodder on the notorious Fox Network, which nobody with a brain stem would ever call a “fair and balanced” media outlet, and, of course, Alterman digs into the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other super-conservative outlets that came into power during the right-wing crusade against Clinton.
The rest of this highly detailed and often mind-boggling book delves into the growing bias toward conservative viewpoints through the 2000 Florida election fiasco and straight into the Bush administration, where many of the more objective news outlets found themselves under increased financial and political pressure to “get with the program,” so to speak, the program being a more Bush-friendly, conservative slant.
The chapter “W’s World” really lays out in full detail just how right-leaning most media began to sway, and how the public worldview swayed along with it. Alterman questions over and over the media’s total lack of hard journalistic investigative reporting after 9/11, the Iraq war, and the election fiasco of 2000 (which should have been dissected in full public view, for was not democracy stolen that day?), wondering why the media failed the public on every level. This media failure continues into the Afterword on the Iraq invasion and begs the final question “Is journalism still an honorable profession?” Alterman still has hope, but for now sees a continuation of conservative control, for, as he claims, the cry of “liberal media bias” has seemed to play well with a relatively ignorant public so far, has it not?
There is so much factual information, data, statistics, documentation, references, and sheer proof of a massive degradation of the media that I can’t even begin to point out any specifics that really got me riled. I mean, this book is so factually powerful, it gave me a headache! I have read some conservative books, like Bias and Treason, and they just don’t hold a candle to Alterman’s level of research, professionalism and factual representation of his claims.
Trust me and read the book no matter what your political slant may be, because ultimately Alterman makes a very profound and powerful point – that the media should neither lean too far right or too far left. The media instead should do its job, report the facts, uncover the truth, investigate, tell the public what is really going on. Today, it isn’t doing anything but parroting the words coming out of the White House, words pre-selected and pre-approved by those in power.
Right now, those in power just happen to be on the Right.