A Defense of "MSM" Iraq Constitution Coverage

According to Bullwinkle at the Random Numbers blog, the Associated Press is pushing an "agenda" with photos from Iraq that are universally negative. He posts two such photos to prove his point. One shows a grieving mother, another a group of Iraqi prisoners.

But if you go to the article where Bullwinkle finds these two photos, you'll have to scroll down to see them -- the photo at the top of the story on Saturday's voting is of stacks of boxes containing ballots to be counted. Oh, the horror and bias of it all!

Bill (From the Swamp) points to another photo from the Associated Press in a post titled, "Look Here, Democracy." Near as I can make out, the point of his post is that the photo, of an Iraqi reading a newspaper with a pro-constitution advertisement on it, demonstrates that democracy is flourishing in Iraq. Yet in spite of such positive images (like the one he displays from, ahem, the AP), "It's a shame the MSM can't see past their hate."

MSM, for those not accustomed to reading the rants of the paranoid right, stands for "Mainstream Media" -- that is, the bastion of liberalism that refuses to report anything good about Iraq ever.

This kind of thing drives me mad. Much like hard-core supporters of Israel and their pro-Palestinian counterparts who only notice when something negative is written about their side, critics on the left and on the right constantly complain that the "mainstream media" are immutably biased against them. They fail to see all the positive stories reflecting their outlook. On the rare occasions that they do notice the positive coverage, their response tends to come in the form of snide remarks about how awful it must have been for the journalist in question to write something so kind.

They see bias in neutral words and phrases, as Dave of Garfield Ridge did in this paragraph from an AP story:

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani issued a decree setting Dec. 15 for Iraqis to vote again, this time to elect a new parliament. If the constitution indeed passed, the first full-term parliament since Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003 will install a new government by Dec. 31. If the charter has failed, the parliament will be temporary, tasked with drawing up a new draft on which to vote.

Dave says that he "still had to laugh at how the Associated Press characterized the vote ... I may be a nitpicker, but is it *really* accurate to equate a democratically-elected parliament with the rump fiction of Saddam's 'parliament'?"

Yes, Dave, you are a nitpicker. The AP did not label Saddam's parliament "democratically-elected" or "legitimate" or even "not absolutely the worst government ever conceived" -- it just reported that there was a "full-term parliament" in 2003, which is objectively true.

The Washington Times editorial writers also couldn't resist taking a shot: "the mainstream media in the United States took time out from the continuing barrage of negative news to report some heartwarming stories of elderly Iraqis being carried to the polls to vote for a constitution they said would help create a more peaceful future for their children and grandchildren." First off, I, too, love the scene of an elderly woman holding her purple index finger aloft for all to see. Second, does this mean the members of the Washington Times editorial board don't consider their paper to be part of the mainstream media? (Far be it from me to argue with them.)

Heaven forbid the press ever quote an Iraqi who's got a negative view of the current situation in Iraq or the country's soon-to-be constitution. The ConservaGlobe blog takes such quotes to mean that "liberal media" are angry that Iraqis are voting. Maxed Out Mama is appalled that the media would dare report that it's not all sunshine and daisies in Iraq. Among Mike's Things to Think About is this none-too-thoughtful question: "Without people dying, what will the press report? Will they just ignore this (or run it on the back page)? Will they run reports / editorials / columns saying that this free elections in Iraq don't really matter and try to downplay the value of this (that was the Seattle Time's [sic] strategy today)? Or will they embrace the progress?"

Memo to Mike, Mama and the rest: An objective press is not supposed to "embrace" anything. It is supposed to report the facts.

All this reminds me of a call I received from a very agitated man in El Paso, Tex., back in 2003, when I worked on the Post's foreign desk. The man demanded to know why a Post reporter had written such an "anti-American" article. (I believe this was the story, about an Iraqi whose home was destroyed by a U.S. missile.)

I explained that it is our job to cover all sides of the story, even on those occasions when it reflects badly on the home team. He said, "if I want the other side of the story, I'll watch al-Jazeera!" I expressed surprise that al-Jazeera would be readily available -- in English, no less -- in El Paso. (Clearly they have a better basic cable package than we have here in Washington.) He then accused me of being a Bush hater: "You hate the president! You wish he'd never been elected!" Remember, this was during Bush's first term, so I laughingly responded, "He wasn't elected!" To my great surprise, my friend from El Paso laughed along with me.

(For the record, I don't hate Bush. Hatred is a poor use of valuable time and energy. I disagree with many of his stances, but not all of them. Among other things, I adamantly oppose his positions on torture, rendition and indefinite detention; I am, however, staunchly in his corner when it comes to cutting farm subsidies. A difference in magnitude, granted, but common ground nonetheless.)

To anyone who's still convinced there's a Vast Left-Wing MSM Conspiracy suppressing good news about Iraq, please read this first-person account by UPI's Pamela Hess. While embedded in Iraq, she came to feel the country was not so dangerous, and that plenty of good things were happening. But when she looked at the casualty reports, she saw a totally different picture -- a picture that can change radically depending on where one is standing. Explains Hess:

Iraq is like the elephant and the blind men. In that parable, the blind men describe the elephant as they experience it. One, holding the tusk, says that an elephant is smooth, hard and sharp. One, feeling the belly, says that it is soft and wrinkled. Another, holding the trunk, says that it is long, thin and muscular.

Each is right. Each is wrong.

By Emily Messner |  October 18, 2005; 5:16 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

For those of us who watched the Nixon debacle, this is not a surprise. When the news is bad, simple enough to proclaim the press is against you, has bias, doesn't report your positive values, the rest of that drill. And there are the diehard supporters out there who will take up that line and hold too it until the last clod hits the coffin. Hopefully, the press will have the intelligence to know spin for what it is, and get their facts right.

Posted by: Ruth | October 18, 2005 06:29 AM

Actually, I think the MSM has been a right-wing, neoconservative tool, at least until very recently. Judith Miller wasn't the only journalist following the administration's line throughout the Iraq fiasco, and the White House press corp. spent Bush's first term as nothing more than a group of stenographers.

Posted by: Mike | October 18, 2005 07:49 AM

You need to be blind, deaf and dumb not to see the liberal bias in the MSM. Finding and nitpicking a few exceptions does not make the case for fairness in reporting.

Posted by: Leo L. Algminas | October 18, 2005 08:06 AM

it is intersting to read the MSM accounts of doom and gloom. when i speak to military that were there they speak of a different Iraq. it would do the MSM well to speak to those in the front lines to find out what is truely happening instead of being a wire service for Al Jazeera. it is becoming a little passe for the new york times and the MSM to continue being the PR for the insurgents. the theme is always "America is bad" and "the terrorists (oops I meant insurgents) just need a hug"

Posted by: moses | October 18, 2005 08:22 AM

you might have pointed out that his stated policy notwithstanding Bush did NOT cut farm supports

Posted by: johannes holub | October 18, 2005 08:23 AM

According to loony, paranoid hard right wing conservatives, the so-called MSM is responsible for "EVERY" problem or criticism of President Bush and the Republican party. It's all "manufactured" by leftist democratic enemies and confirmed
and spread by the lying liberally biased

Funny thing about these people is that they never focus on the negative results of the actions, policies, and rhetoric of President Bush and the Republicans.

They only want the news reported that is favorable to them, which really amounts to

Posted by: Cassini | October 18, 2005 08:54 AM

Speaking about the military - I belong to a group called the Iraq Vets Against the War. Many many military people are leaving Iraq with a profound disgust for what is going on over there. Some of us are standing up to protest the continuing deaths. Although I was not actually in Iraq, many of my colleagues report horrible abuses and atrocities there. They see no point to continue the fiasco and are working as hard as they can to prevent further deaths. By no means is the military a solid voice, and many people support our policies there, but regardless, the effect of the war on all of us is terrible.

Posted by: stephen | October 18, 2005 09:06 AM

This defense of the MSM reads like many defenses by traditional journalists who are not in the habit of reading the more serious, thoughtful and informed "conservative" blogs and rely on hearsay and second-hand information when referring to them and their supposed point of view. Emily Messner does not seem to understand that there are very good reasons why so many Americans--myself included--have learned to distrust the fair-mindedness and knowledgeability of so many mainstream journalists. In the case of Iraq, for example, we have seen (because we read Iraqi blogs and e-mails from American soldiers in Iraq) that major stories have not been reported that might reflect a different view than the prevailing antiwar, anti-Bush Adminstration one. We have observed that most members of the mainstream media, while reporting every single car bomb, has spent very little time and energy focussing on the larger picture of why those car bombs are taking place (numbers of blogs, such as belmontclub and windsofchange, do a far better job). We have seen, too, that the MSM in general has spent very little time and energy covering the myriad small positive events occurring in Iraq--events we have learned about from other sources on the ground.

Posted by: Emily Heyser | October 18, 2005 09:22 AM

This defense of the MSM reads like many defenses by traditional journalists who are not in the habit of reading the more serious, thoughtful and informed "conservative" blogs and rely on hearsay and second-hand information when referring to them and their supposed point of view. Emily Messner does not seem to understand that there are very good reasons why so many Americans--myself included--have learned to distrust the fair-mindedness and knowledgeability of so many mainstream journalists. In the case of Iraq, for example, we have seen (because we read Iraqi blogs and e-mails from American soldiers in Iraq) that major stories have not been reported that might reflect a different view than the prevailing antiwar, anti-Bush Adminstration one. We have observed that most members of the mainstream media, while reporting every single car bomb, has spent very little time and energy focussing on the larger picture of why those car bombs are taking place (numbers of blogs, such as belmontclub and windsofchange, do a far better job). We have seen, too, that the MSM in general has spent very little time and energy covering the myriad small positive events occurring in Iraq--events we have learned about from other sources on the ground.

Posted by: Emily Heyser | October 18, 2005 09:23 AM

We on the left use more affectionate terms for the MSM.

The Post for example is Pravda on the Potomac.

Posted by: Eric | October 18, 2005 09:34 AM

This defense of MSM does not hold water. I go one step further and claim that MSM is the complete problem. Without the constant negative stories about Iraq, the so-called insurgents would have lost long ago. We need only look at the recent letter from Zahawiri who admits that the battle is in the media, i.e. he needs to use the media to persuade the masses. His tape airing in Al-Jazeera is all important to him.
Without the MSM promoting the anti-US agenda, recruits for the US army would be up and recruits for Al-Qaeda would be nonexistant. Bombs in Iraq are for front page stories in NYT - with the hope (as Zahawiri states) that the US will leave quickly.
This defense of MSM is 'empty' of any facts.

Posted by: Henry | October 18, 2005 09:42 AM

Sorry, Ms Messenger, but sitting out here "Where the West Begins" (Nebraska) we observe an unrelenting media theme of "all is woe and it's the administration's fault" in Iraq. For more balanced news, one has to dig for alternative sources, such as returning citizen-soldiers, the Fox News reporters you love to hate, and, interestingly, NPR reporters in Iraq.

Posted by: Michael | October 18, 2005 09:47 AM

The issue of "balance" is a misnomer. Every single media outlet has an agenda it wants to push, and all of its reporting is designed to fit that agenda. If people want pro-Bush, pro-business, and conservative-tilted news, they read the Washington Times. If people want something more left of center, there's the L.A. Times.

I read the Post because (for the most part) its views reflect my own when it comes to politics and policy. That's what everyone does--they want the news that validates their own personal opinions.

I think we would be smarter, better informed, and more adept at critical thinking if we sought out different forms of news and reporting and compared them before making judgments. But I'm probably asking too much.

Posted by: Martin | October 18, 2005 10:33 AM

I was hoping to read a real debate here, but this article is a bit of an axe-grinder. Clearly Ms. Messner wants to show a certain side of blogs (the intolerant, mean-spirited bloggers! Oh, no!) and she's done that, but she has not satisfactorily answered the question so many bloggers and blog readers have: why is the press so reluctant to report the news of liberation and democratic workings in the land of a previously tyrannized people, helped by Americans? This is democracy in a place no one believed it could happen, and it is the first step in spreading it elsewhere to destroy terrorism as a means of movement, but the press is ABSENT on it. The second question of course is this: if President Clinton had done this, would the press STILL be so reluctant to report on it? How about it, Ms. Messner?

Posted by: Riata | October 18, 2005 10:35 AM

Look, everyone, this is very simple: the media is a business. They must make a profit. Some publications and new channels attempt to cash in on the "right" side of the political spectrum because that is where they think they can make more money (FOX). Others go for the "left."

It all depends on market trends, locations, form of media, who is in the White House/in power, etc.

The "liberal bias" argument is a complete farce. There are no meetings at newspaper officers where editors sip on coffe mugs and plan out how they can push the liberal agenda. They devise ways to sell more newspapers! Or else they are out of a job!

Now, if you want to complain about something, complain about "the dumbing down of the news." This where the concept of "if it bleeds, it leads" comes from - the notion that "the public won't get" certain complicated new stories, but will watch/read others that are "simpler."

That is the real problem - the fact that, if you don't take the time to go out check out the world yourself, and just rely on the media, you are only getting "half the story."

Posted by: Matt | October 18, 2005 10:37 AM

Right wingers sound like fans who whine about a call in a football game that doesn't go their team's way. Get over it already.

If things were all hunky dory over in Iraq there would be 24/7 positive news. Since things aren't, not all news that is reported is going to be good. Deal with it.

Maybe right-wingers should stick too the kool-aid channel, FOX News, so that they don't need to face reality and can get their daily dose of right-wing talking points. MAybe they will feel better then.

Posted by: SamIAm | October 18, 2005 10:51 AM

Just back from Baghdad. Things are decidedly mixed there. It would be difficult to paint an accurate picture of such a fluid, and chaotic environment. Still, I think we can expect success in between 4 to 15 years. Is it worth it? That is for the people to decide.

Posted by: Davis | October 18, 2005 10:54 AM

Here's a question to ask yourself: How often have you heard the term "liberal media"?

Never? Often?

Clearly "often" is the only honest answer here.

Now ask yourself this: How are you hearing this so often in the "liberal media" if they've got a strangehold on things? Are they dissing themsevles?

The reason you hear the words "liberal media" constantly is because this is a fiction by the far right.

The fact that you hear it constantly proves without much doubt that the opposite is true.

Posted by: Question Man | October 18, 2005 10:55 AM

Of course the media is liberal! That's what Rush Limbaugh says, and Ann Coulter, and Bill O'Reilly, and George Will, And Robert Novak, Michelle Malkin, and Charles Krauthammer...and the list goes on. I would'nt know there was a liberal media if Iwere'nt being told so, over and over, on a daily basis. How, oh, how, will those poor benighted conservatives EVER get their message out past the mainstream filter of those communist pinko America haters at Fox news?

Posted by: | October 18, 2005 11:08 AM

And yet, still no answer to MY questions.

Posted by: Riata | October 18, 2005 11:17 AM

For anyone interested in the most exhaustive, albeit somewhat dated, treatment of MSM bias I would still recommend "The Media Elite" by Rothman and Lichter (1990) of Smith College and Columbia University, respectively. Sadly the book is out of print, but if you can find a copy it still provides the useful light of rigorous scholarly analysis to the heat and passion that often surrounds the MSM debate.

To give fair warning regarding the outcome of the author's research, one review notes - "It opens with a profile of today's "typical" media worker: an upper-middle-class, white, male college graduate earning 30,000-50,000 a year [in 1986 dollars - my note], whose parents are college graduates, perhaps professionals. It is notable that 68% come from Northeastern or north-central cities and have little sympathy for small-town America; few attend church or synagogue. The authors proceed to demonstrate that media people's regional and class prejudices determine their handling of the news."

Emily, I would love to get your reaction to the data in this study. I would love to know if you feel the underlying homogeneity of viewpoint in the MSM has changed since the publication of this study.

Posted by: Andy Johnson | October 18, 2005 11:17 AM

The media have a left wing bias? Ridiculous. It's the other way around, obviously.

It took 5 weeks and constant prodding from blogs to get the US press to cover the Downing Street minutes, and "cover" in this case meant largely "strain to explain why you haven't covered this story that the rest of the world thinks is so important." That these documents were the final nail in the coffin to Bush and Blair's credibility was missed only by the MSM and the ever-dwindling ranks of hardcore Bush nutcase supporters. Where was the huge press coverage of a male prostitute cum press shill allowed to roam the White House? How many stories have you read about Dick Cheney's 3000% return on his Halliburton stock options, or about Halliburton gouging scandals, or about the CPA "losing" almost $9 billion? There are so many scandals occurring in this White House and with the Republican Party no one can keep track, and the MSM doesn't try.

Compare and contrast with all the manufactured non-scandals that Clinton had to deal with throughout his tenure. Filegate, travelgate, the $200 haircut airport fiasco that never happened (according to the FAA, but why would the MSM check with them?), the totally bogus Whitewater speculation in the NYT that Jeff Gerth still has not been held accountable for, and finally ALL the gory details of the president's sex life printed in every major paper in the nation in the form of the Starr report - no pseudo-scandal was too much for the press to ignore back then.

Liberal media - only in the crazed imaginations of rightwing nuts. What we have are media totally subservient to the Republican party, because they fear and are beholden to the people who will let Big Media thrive.

Posted by: Realpolitik | October 18, 2005 11:21 AM

Considering all the propaganda this Bush administration has bombarded Americans with and the daily amount of lying that comes out of the White House its too bad the MSM has rolled over like a scared dog and given up objective journalism.

The Republicans would have been run out of town on a rail years ago if the media had the balls to tell the truth.

But the media is scared and has given Bush a free ride despite his inept and subversive actions.

Bush is a liar, Cheney is a liar, Rumsfeld is a liar, Condi is a liar, Rove is a liar, Libby is a liar, Frist is a liar, DeLay is a liar.

This gang is the most unAmerican, most like Commies I have seen in power since the cold war broke up the Soviet Union.

Then only good that has come from all this is that all the morons and knucklescrapers who have been cheering on this crap have now been exposed and we know who they are. We will not forget.

All of the MSM are owned by huge corporations who side with Bush and the Republicans on all major issues.

The day the MSM is shown as liberal will be the day we find all those WMDs in Iraq and prove their connection to 9-11.

Bet we'll see the heroes of the GOP frogmarched before that happens.

Nixon lives and works in today's White House!

Posted by: The Angry Buddhist | October 18, 2005 11:21 AM

Support the Troop?

No. That's what the Germans did in WWII.

Support the Truth.

Posted by: The Angry Buddhist | October 18, 2005 11:24 AM

"Without the constant negative stories about Iraq, the so-called insurgents would have lost long ago"

Excuse me while I laugh at the sheer stupidity of that statement...

Ok, I'm done now. You can go back to your pathetic existance.

Clearly, most pundits are not even conservative, they are blindly Republican. Party over country, eh? That is obvious to see. When it comes to pundits on network news the only liberal ones that come to mind are Ron Reagan and Keith Olbermann--I know Reagan is an independent and I have no idea about Olbermann. But I've seen them both criticize the Democrats.

Anyways, the news media itself is neither liberal or conservative. The news media has one agenda and one agenda only--money. They are going to report on news that gaves the most attention. Moreso than not, this happens to be "bad" stories. Like it or not, people want to know what "bad" stuff is going on. Just look at your local news for example, the majority of the reports are on "bad" things happening. That is just the way news goes.

The myth of the liberal media is just another example of the victimhood complex the right is obsessed with; in particular the Christian theocratic right--the ones who are ignorant enough to think our country's founding values are derived from the Bible.

Posted by: Rob S | October 18, 2005 11:25 AM

This is what the Republican party sounds like when the shoe is on the other foot. Here are quotes about the US involvement in Kosovo when Clinton was president.

You can support the troops but not the president."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."
--Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
--Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
--Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."
--Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
--Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

Posted by: jay | October 18, 2005 11:26 AM

I wonder if some of these people psoting consider Fox News, or as we called it in Baghdad, The American Al Jazeera, to be biased against Bush?

MSM may not always get it right, but for those who see a bias, they only see it against their cause. In short, if the kool-aid is not their flavor, then it is biased.
The far left and far right has long ago given up the value of respecting differing opinions.

If it is different from their's it is biased.

Posted by: Iraq Vet | October 18, 2005 11:36 AM

Liberal? Not a chance.

How in the world could Bush have gotten away with all the fraud and incompetence he has pushed with a "liberal media" watching?

He would have been laughed out of the water for even attempting to push his WMD, Iraq-911, essential war NOW NOW NOW bits.

Bush's chosen audiences for his SS rallies would have been front paged repeatedly. The House of Representatives' multi hour vote instead of 15 minutes on the Medicare-Prescription fiasco would have been all over the media.

The whole idea that the New Orleans are likely to be built back to barely Cat 3 quality would be anathema. As would be the idea that Halliburton and other BushCronie companies should get Gulf coast rebuilding contracts instead of local firms who are more qualified, being more familiar with local conditions. An Alaska company get the contract to supply equipment and wind up buying it from a Gulf state wholesaler???????????????????

Anybody who thinks the MSM is liberal has not only been drinking too much Neocon Koolaid, but has been marinating in it.

New Orleans: your tax cuts and cronies at work.

Posted by: Maybeeso | October 18, 2005 01:05 PM

All anyone ever needs to do to obtain definitive proof of the MSM bias against reporting good news from Iraq is read through Arthur Chrenkoff's many, MANY detailed posts on the underreporte news from Iraq.

It's unsurprising that a far left-wing reporter from the left-wing MSM would defend the relentless gloom-and doom perpetrated by the MSM. It's also unsurprising that the leftist lemmings among the posters would eagerly lap it up...

Posted by: John | October 18, 2005 01:06 PM

If both lefties and righties think that the MSM is biased towards the other side, doesn't that mean th MSM is actually fairly middle-of-the-road? You know you're doing something right if you manage to annoy both sides.

Posted by: Kea | October 18, 2005 01:14 PM

My only concern is that an obviously intelligent and thoughtful person such as Ms Messner would waste her time on such moronic drivel. The idiots who now inhabit the (once great) Republican Party post their idiotic ramblings on these blogs confirming that they are pathetic buffoons with no ability for independent thought and can only parrot the rantings of fox news phoneys.

Posted by: Dennis | October 18, 2005 01:20 PM

What is unsurprising is that right wing conservative loonies would portray "the
ever rising death toll of U.S. Soldiers & Iraqi civilians" as "doom & gloom".

Anything that reflects badly on President Bush's misguided Iraqi war in hence seen as
"liberal media biased reporting". Seems the so-called MSM is just reporting the "facts" to me.

Posted by: Cassini | October 18, 2005 01:21 PM

People who rail against what they meaninglessly brand the "mainstream media" are missing an important point about most news reporters. Unlike the heavy breathing bloggers, pundits and MSM haters - but like 99.44 percent of people around the world - overseas reporters like those that predominate in Iraq just aren't that concerned with American politics. Hacks? Sure, but the inkstained kind rather than partisan variety. Reporters don't become foreign correspondents and travel to dangerous places like Iraq because they're looking to score political points. If they wanted to brave bombs and open themselves up to all brands of ill-informed character assassination to advance an agenda, they'd forego Baghdad and head there to Washington. Hyper-supporters on the left and right might just go ahead and stop projecting their motives and methods onto everyone else. Most of the rest of us are too busy to join conspiracies.

Posted by: huh? | October 18, 2005 01:36 PM

Saddest of all is the political game that has everyone's attention, both right and left. Case in point: Emily posts on the Iraqi Constitution and a blog on life in Iraq, and gets in the neighborhood of 5 comments. Emily posts on whether or not the media is for the democrats or the republicans, 33 (and counting) posts. Y'all remind me of my dad when he watches sports on tv and says the announcers hate the team he's rooting for.
Why is it that no one has an opinion on Iraqi constitutionalism, but everyone has an opinion about the US leaders responsible for crafting it and the media that is responsible for reporting on it. What kind of judgement can we collectively place on either leaders or journalists without some type of knowledge about the type of outcomes we are looking for them to produce? Tune in next week whe everyone is out to get Delay, Frist, Cheney, Libby and Rove and the only comeback to this complaint is that the other side was out to get Clinton. ugh. You'd think that the whole thing was a big game or a television show with fictional characters.
In summary, how can y'all be so concerned with motives? Isn't it possible that different journalists have different motives AND are reporting correctly? Isn't it posible that the DA in Texas is out to get DeLay AND DeLay is guilty? Unlike the media and the administration's handling of the Iraq war, at least those indicted will be held accountable to standards and principles in the court of law that are outside of the seemingly ravenous political interests of the public. I for one, am not cheering for conviction or acquittal, but sanity and fairness in the process.

Posted by: Steven | October 18, 2005 02:02 PM

This is just another example of the GOP saying "Don't trust anything big, the UN, the Democrats, other countries, the news . . . Except of course, US!" It's an appeal to the idiot who was sure that his high school teachers were against him, the religious zealot who feels that anyone who doesn't share his beliefs is damned, the jingoistic patriot who can never see anything his own country does as wrong. It's an appeal to ignorance, the ignorance that half a century of Republicans bleeding the schools for weapons has presented us with, the ignorance that Karl Rove so cynically recognizes as a useful political movement. It's our own failure, a failure to educate our own country, our own people, our own poor. The poor aren't going away, and we've given them Jesus instead of educations, and now they pay us back by following anti-intellectual leaders who blame the press, the world and scientists for all the things they can't control and don't understand.

Speaking with the dead,


Posted by: Necromancer | October 18, 2005 02:28 PM

So when did Judith Miller begin receiving payment from the Whitehouse for work on discovering WMD's in the field?

THAT is the question NOBODY is asking... yet it is patently obvious given her behavior in the field, and in court, and in jail...

Miller is the "undercover operative" that actually needs to be outed.

Posted by: Long Beach | October 18, 2005 02:31 PM

How can I prove the "liberal bias" of the MSM is a farce?

Take your blood pressure medicine and googe "yellowcake forgery".

If the liberals controlled the media the country would be in uproar. Right now the silence is deafening.

Posted by: patriot1957 | October 18, 2005 03:35 PM

Sorry - Google (not googe) "yellowcake forgery"

Posted by: patriot1957 | October 18, 2005 03:36 PM

HIIIIII-LARIOUS. Partisans from both sides railing away at the mainstream media for being "biased".

Blaming international reporters from covering "every single car-bomb" (it's a freaking car-bomb, man, it's a big deal) unless they report on an elementary school opening that afternoon is borderline retarded.

Was 9/11 coverage "biased" because it didn't mention how great the weather was that morning? I mean, it was a BEAUTIFUL day -- anyone else remember?

As long as the news provides information on things that actually happened, and some degree of context (i.e., more car bombs than last month? less? does the car bomb MEAN anything?), I am content. I don't think it's always perfect, but I don't think bias is the problem, particularly when everyone has the ability to cross-check 20 or 30 different accounts if they'd like.


Posted by: nate | October 18, 2005 03:51 PM

"Memo to Mike, Mama and the rest: An objective press is not supposed to "embrace" anything. It is supposed to report the facts."

Riiiiiight, Emily. Just like it reported the facts when it came to the run-up to the Iraqi war.

Just like Judith Miller didn't embrace the White House smear effort by agreeing that Libby should be identified as a "former Hill staffer."

Just as the Post's frequent columnists Novak and Cohen retain our respect for being factual in regard to the Plame Case.

Or, just like the press was vigilant in not embracing the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth?

Speaking of the facts - when was the last time you saw a paper show a US casualty or death? Or a casket of a fallen soldier?

When was the last time you heard of a news outlet talking about the fact that the US has suffered over 15,000 casualties in this current war and occupation?

Global warming? Intelligent design? Nope - forget facts and observations, just balance the story by reporting different "experts" and leave the judgement out of it.

The MSM is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that it doesn't have a liberal or a conservative bias. It has a bias toward making judgements based on facts, preferring instead to parrot talking points and off-the-record comments.

Posted by: DBJ | October 18, 2005 03:58 PM

"Ppsssshhhh. You can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true."

--Homer Simpson

Posted by: Sonny | October 18, 2005 04:04 PM

In order to prove bias you can't always say " Hey they left out that important fact!" You need to be able to compare the actual facts and topics covered. For instance, during the 2005 campaign, everytime the Bush number's would slide and Kerry poll numbers would go up it would be reported by Rather. But when the opposite happened it would not be reported. I was watching a CNN story on trouble between Isreal and the Palestines. After a short summary of how some Palestinians had bombed a place and then the Isrealites went searching for them, there were two personal stories on Palestinian homes that had been blown up. Should those stories have been covered? Yes. But what about the stories of Isrealites suffering? I have read some stuff on the internet about Conservative bias and it's mostly " They didn't talk enough about Bush and such and such scandal." When I go to other sites like MRC it will compare two similiar events and show how the media covers certain topics and ideas that liberals love over the ideas that conservatives think important.

Posted by: CF | October 19, 2005 05:20 PM

ElephantMan from ConservaGlobe here:

First off, thank you very much for noticing my blog, it is nice to know that people are interested in what I have to say.

I did not assert that the AP withheld facts; I just said that they presented them in a slanted way. I based my reasoning on the media's choice of headlines and which quotes were or were not included in various articles' opening and closing statements. I did acknowledge that the media did, in fact, quote many Shiite and Kurdish supporters of the constitution. However, I was rather disturbed that such quotes were usually buried within the body of an article, while the focus was always placed on angry Sunnis.

As for the existence of a "liberal media", I can state lots of examples proving my point. Example 1: Dan Rather and the forged documents. Example 2: All of the news reports which stated that Karl Rove's testimony before a grand jury was his last chance to prove that he shouldn't be indicted (For the record, I heard it on ABC radio news). Nobody REALLY knows what Rove was being questioned about of if an indictment is even being considered. Example 3: CBS Radio News during Israel's Gaza pullout, "Before 1967, all of the land in the Gaza Strip belonged to the Palestinians, and soon it will again." If you go to my blog's archives, you will find an uninterrupted chronology of the ownership of the Gaza Strip going back 2000 years, the Palestinians have NEVER controlled ANY of the land in Gaza. Hence, the report showed and obvious pro-Palestinian bias.

In response to the comment made by "Nate": I do read the mainstream media, sometimes for several hours per day. I get my news from Yahoo! News (which publishes stories from the AP, Associated Free Press, and Reuters) and the BBC. I do read numerous stories covering the same issues from different angles, and I DO detect a pronounced bias toward the left (as I illustrated earlier regarding the coverage of the Iraqi referendum). I do not consider "some degree of context" to be sufficient proof of a lack of bias. I want the WHOLE context presented in an accurate and unbiased fashion. As you put it, I want to know what "actually happened".

In my final defense of my post, I will cite the AP headline from the morning after the Iraqi constitutional referendum. It was not "Large majority supports Iraqi constitution!" it was "Sunnis Appear to Fall Short in Iraq Vote."


Posted by: ElephantMan | October 20, 2005 01:38 AM

As someone who really doesn't get into politics, so I don't have much stake one way or the other, I would have to say there is definitely a liberal bias in the MSM. It's been that way as long as I can remember, and I think to pretend it doesn't exist (or worse to actually believe that it doesn't) reflects pretty poorly on the person asserting there isn't any. I think the liberal bias in real news outlets like the Post, the NY Times and CNN are just a little harder to see given the ridiculous way that Fox and rightwing talk radio conduct themselves. Fox claims to be fair and balanced, but that is so laughable that it makes CNN and the big papers appear unbiased. In fact, they are mostly just less unabashed, and it probably makes them more dangerous to a disinterested person just trying to get a fair read--no one would assume they are getting fair reporting from Fox, but you might mistakenly think you were from the Post. My biggest complaint about the Post though, since I can see the bias and read critically around it, is the constant factual errors. Every time I am actually knowledgable about events being reported, I am shocked at how badly off the reporter is on the facts. I can only assume they that far off very often, but I just don't know enough to realize it. In these cases I'm talking about cutting corners to save on editing/fact checking and trying to get as many stories out as possible as quickly as possible rather than actually putting together a story with journalistic integretity. The blogs could probably be cut some slack because they don't purport to be news, but they do (this one included) seem to play awfully fast and loose with the facts.

Posted by: Joe | October 24, 2005 07:38 PM

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