In This Case, “Anti-Trust” Has More Than One Meaning

Peggy Noonan (who was once a producer for Dan Rather, incidentally) in today’s WSJ:

Mr. Fineman asserts that the MSM came into existence after World War II, which is essentially true, but goes on to claim that it came into existence as the result of the fact that “a temporary moderate consensus came to govern the country.” Please. America was a political battleground in those days, fighting over everything from McCarthyism to the true nature of communism to the proper role of government to Vietnam. The MSM didn’t come into existence because of a brief period of political comity. The MSM rose because it had a monopoly. And it fell because it lost that monopoly.

All this has been said before but this can’t be said enough: The biggest improvement in the flow of information in America in our lifetimes is that no single group controls the news anymore.

Quite right, and whether in Iraq or Minnesota or even Lafayette, Lousiana, there is nothing so desperate, angry, or ugly as a monopoly that’s losing its grip.

More:

Only 20 years ago, when you were enraged at what you felt was the unfairness of a story, or a bias on the part of the storyteller, you could do this about it: nothing. You could write a letter.

When I worked at CBS a generation ago I used to receive those letters. Sometimes we read them, and sometimes we answered them, but not always. Now if you see such a report and are enraged you can do something about it: You can argue in public on a blog or on TV, you can put forth information that counters the information in the report. You can have a voice. You can change the story. You can bring down a news division. Is this improvement? Oh yes it is.

Some media organs–Newsweek, Time, the New York Times–will likely use the changing environment as license to be what they are: liberal, only more so. Interestingly they have begun to use Fox News Channel as their rationale. We used to be unbiased but then Fox came along with its conservative propaganda so now just to be fair and compete we’re going liberal.

I don’t see why anyone should mind this. A world where National Review is defined as conservative and Newsweek defined as liberal would be a better world, for it would be a more truthful one. Everyone gets labeled, tagged and defined, no one hides an agenda, the audience gets to listen, consider, weigh and allow for biases. A journalistic world where people declare where they stand is a better one.

Couldn’t have said it better myself–although I did try a couple of times.

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21 Responses to “In This Case, “Anti-Trust” Has More Than One Meaning”

  1. Mike Says:

    I’ve always taken the William Kristol line that many claims of bias in a “liberal media” are used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures. To me there isn’t really a Left media (unless you count some piddly radio station like Democracy Now). Now there’s liberal pundits and columnists, and there are far right pundits too, but partisan hackery is their job.
    Now on the topic of FOX, they’re a joke. Not really a news station, so much as a talking points station. Just look at how they dropped the ball on tsunami coverage for two weeks. One reporter in Thailand and a “correspondent” in D.C. When it comes to real hard news, they messed it all up.

  2. C'est Moi Says:

    I dunno Mike, I lost a lot of my faith in other groups like CNN (I used to be a cnn.com devotee)during the elections. They were OBVIOUSLY pandering to the Anti-Bush folks and I got fed up with it. The CBS gaffe just underscored it to me. I am not a huge fan of Bush, but I still would like an attempt to be made at unbiased reporting…if that is what they are claiming to do.
    I still watch my local news and whatever World news follows (depending on who their parent station is) but I go to Fox to get the other side of things. I agree with Ms Noonan that things are better when the news stations are up front about their bias…as opposed to claiming neutrality while really reporting according to their own views.
    Also, regarding the tsunami…I LOVE that Fox was slow on that one. I appreciate the scope of the devestation…but, rumour has it, that there are actually other things going on in the World than just that. It’s nice to be able to find at least one news source covering something else!

  3. sven Says:

    One of the justifications for the herd mentality offered on campuses is “we saw the impact of highly combative yellow journalism in 1898….”

    ie “bad journalism makes it easier to go to war, shape policy, etc etc etc…..

    er uh well yeah Joe Reporter what were you and Bob the editor doing in campaign ’04 but guiding news to aid the election of a candidate?

    The funny thing is that anyone seriously expected that the CBS report would be anything other than an attempted smokescreen. The other cool thing is the intellectual gymnastics SeeBeeEss has managed to perform that have shifted the burden of proof from their having to prove their documents are legit to now having the body at large having to prove that they are not. I suspect that is why they have delayed for so long.

    Is it POSSIBLE that there was a special typewriter in the TANG that had a nice clerk who decided that they were going to weld a custom typeface to a typewriter in order to make “purty documents”?

    Sure it’s possible and it SHOULD be an easy matter of generating other examples from this typewriter unless one falls into the trap of believing that *golly* they ONLY typed this one example of a document on it. /sarcasm

    Whatever the person who said that moonbats think they have a magic power that keeps them from culpability nailed it…..

    Listening to Bill Kristol for guidance on the validity of Conservative Bias is as valid a paradigm as listening to Rush Limbaugh for pointers on the sanity of Babs Boxer and company.

  4. Mike Says:

    C’est Moi-
    Now I never said that most mainstream media outlets, especially TV outfits, are compentent. As all the big guys consolidate, make cuts here and there, you can actually watch them get worse. CBS and CNN being good examples.
    But screwing up fact-checking and just bad reporting is incompetence, not really evidence of bias.

  5. C'est Moi Says:

    Mike, I totally agree that bad reporting or bad fact-checking isn’t a sign of bias…but consistantly providing bad reporting and poor fact-checking that always miraculously makes one group look bad?? That’s bias…and that is why I don’t trust CNN, CBS and friends. I like Fox because it’s bias balances out their rhetoric.

  6. sven Says:

    C’est Moi…..

    Nah it is just a coincidence that the networks who helped the democrats soft-soap Clinton’s draft-dodging are 5 years dogged on the Bush Guard story….

    no bias to see move along, move along……

  7. Mike Says:

    C’est Moi –

    “I like Fox because it’s bias balances out their rhetoric.”

    Wait, explain that. It’s right bias balances out it’s right rhetoric?

  8. sven Says:

    Mike,

    Its (alleged) right tilt balances out thunder Dan and crew’s left lurch. How many genuine conservatives do you see at See BS news? The CBS Evening News with “John kerry”(Dan rather filling in for Jungle John this evening) was in essence a 527 for Team jungle John.

  9. Vince Says:

    If news outlets get labeled

  10. Stephen Says:

    Argue opinion balancing other opinion all you like. The question for the nation (and the world, really) is where will folks who have more work time, responsibilities, duties, fractious kids, etc. than time go to easily get their hour of factual and trustworthy news?

    What are the consequences of broad misinformation

  11. sven Says:

    I think that the public is better served by openly partisan media. It is the individual’s repsonsibility to multi-source on data retrieval and get a good picture. The MSM has NEVER been “unbiased” and has been overran with howling moonbats for at least 25 years.

    Since the 60s the press has this notion that they are a political force unto themselves. That attitude precludes objectivity. The muckrakers occured in a period of time where the news was openly partisan and somehow the Republic pulled through.

    Trying to say that ABC could not be bothered to interview first-hand witnesses to Jungle John’s exploits but COULD be bothered to go halfway around the world to get data from within a communist nation from a person who vaguely remembers someone he interacted with ONLY during a battle from afar shows no sign of bias is akin to claiming that G. Gordon Liddy calls it right down the middle.

    Let Fox be as right as it is accused of, let CBS finally be open in their tacitly acknowledged left-wing bias as they obviously desire to be.

    A good citizen will glean both, consume the data, and arrive at their own conclusions about whose vision is more credible on a matter.

    sven

  12. C'est Moi Says:

    Mike-
    What Sven said. I meant that Fox’s alleged right-leaning reporting balances out the rest of the herd’s left-leaning reporting. Sorry about that.

  13. Barry Says:

    Uh, Stephen, there NEVER WAS a place where someone without the time to research the news for him/herself to get an unbiased accounting of that news. That was a myth. It was recently exposed.

    Fortunately, doing a little of that research now need not take more than an hour per day, but it won’t be a passive hour of information absorption.

    Mike- If you do not believe that the NYT, WaPo, and the (formerly) Big Three, are slanted way left, you haven’t read the studies done lately. Tough questions seldom come from the right or libertarian side.

    For example, when was the last time CBS News did a piece that showed that the “feel good” Assault Weapons Ban had no effect, as shown by Federal studies, but that California’s serious crime has dropped precipitously since our 3-strikes law was passed? Can you even IMAGINE that on 60 Minutes? I can’t, but these are real facts backed up by real numbers that no one disputes, and they’re a story that should be of interest to Americans, right? They’re just not in line with left-wing talking points.

  14. Barry Says:

    sven- agreed.

    There won’t be a non-partisan media. That goes against human nature. Smart, articulate people like (some) journalists will have opinions. And some opinions of some people will be right, some wrong, some somewhere in between, just like ours.

    So, we have partisan media outlets, and nothing else. Being openly partisan is far better than being covertly partisan.

    Consider: It’s perfectly legal to sell someone a cheap gold-colored watch, as long as you don’t call it 24K. If you sell it as a real gold watch, though, that’s fraud, and a serious crime.

  15. Doug Dever Says:

    “The media should find its soul and return to an era where they tried to ‘Inform the public’ not filter and shade the news to suit their own view of the world.”

    You have a very skewed view of the history of journalism. Journalism in this country is in the business of selling newspapers (and in more modern times, advertising in newspapers or on tv or on the radio) and influencing popular opinion to suit ownership’s opinions. [In many other countries it has been a propaganda tool for various regimes, but that’s outside the scope here…] People often talk about the “good old days” of journalism, but I challenge any of you to say when that was. Was it those early days when the printing press was first invented and papers were advocacy tools with no distinction between editorializing and reporting? Perhaps the Civil War era where the media was entirely controlled by the political parties? Vietnam? Or the present day, where journalists have discovered they can advance their career by creating stories? (Stop by a college campus and ask J-school students why… many of them will tell you because they “want to make a difference in the world” or “change the world” or to “change public policy.” In short, they want to influence the way other people think.)

    If one actually looks back from the founding of this republic to the present, it’s easy to argue that journalists are more “fair and balanced” than ever before. (But that’s not saying much!) “News” has ALWAYS been biased and always will be. Either the editorial staff has an agenda to push, the owner has an agenda to push, the reporter has an agenda to push, or the reporter (being human) is unable to completely divorce himself from the story and his personal bias seeps into the copy.

    What amuses me so much is that the rally cry has against Fox News is, “They’re horribly biased to the right and we’re fair and ethical journalists.” Perhaps in a world where “fair and ethical” is defined as being anywhere to the left of center without venturing too far out into moonbat country on a daily basis this is true.

    Many people on the right lack the objectivity to see the bent in Fox News, just as many on the left fail to note it in CBS or CNN. (And many see it and deny it because they’re simply partisan hacks…) The vast majority of folks in the middle are clueless sheep – politically retardard creatures who simply watch TV news (and perhaps glance over the sports page in their local newspaper) in the hopes of seeing some carnage from a graphic homicide and will believe whatever the talking head in a shirt, tie, and boxer shorts tells him to believe. (Not that it was any different 200 years ago.) The left has successfully controled the MSM up until recently because they have continued to repeat the lie that “bias in the media doesn’t exist” ad naseum into empty heads.

    If someone on the “right” has to be the first to say it, then allow me to: Fox News has a right wing slant. I choose to watch Fox News because I also have a right-wing slant and am more inclined to agree with their opinion than Dan Rathers’. But don’t sit there and tell me that you’re better because you watch CBS news (or CNN, or read the New York Times) because they don’t have a bias – it’s so intellectually dishonest as to be laughable.

    Just the opinion of one j-school drop-out who went into computers because he didn’t want to be poor…

  16. Doug Dever Says:

    Oops, that should read… In more recent times the left has successfully controled the MSM up because they have continued to repeat the lie…

    It wasn’t always the case… When Abraham Lincoln ran for president, the Chairman of the Republican Party was also the editor of the New York Times.

  17. Decision '08 Says:

    Miscellanea – Long Weekend! Edition

    Also at OpinionJournal, Peggy Noonan writes that Rathergate was only a sign of a change that had already come to pass (hat tip to VodkaPundit)…

  18. Sharpshooter Says:

    “But screwing up fact-checking and just bad reporting is incompetence, not really evidence of bias. ”

    Once, twice, three times, maybe.

    Thousands of times stretches credibility.

    Hell, they’re not even subtle about it anymore.

  19. Sharpshooter Says:

    “Fox News has a right wing slant. ”

    There’s also more liberals at FOX than there are conservatives at CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC put together.

  20. Sharpshooter Says:

    “There’s also more liberals at FOX than there are conservatives at CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC put together.”

    I might add that the liberals ar FOX (Kondracke, Williams etc) are not the frothing-at-the-mouth liberals that are thrown in merely to show liberals as moonbats.

    For how long was that pinhead Pat Buchannan pretty much the only conservative on the MSM?

  21. A Recovering Liberal Says:

    Doug,

    no altruistic intentions on the part of this magazine editor. I just wanna play with words and pretty pictures. It’s all about me! But if the readers learn and retain useful information, that’s icing on the cake (c:

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