The other day I was listening to someone discussing the oft-mentioned liberal bias of the news media. I’ve been hearing about this most of my life, yet after having seen the way every news organization treated Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinski scandal, as well as how they let George Bush get away with his cowboy tactics and mendacity, I must say that I’ve not usually agreed that it exists. I generally dismiss it as so much Republican-speak, used primarily as an escape tunnel into which they can dive when their policies turn out to be, shall we say, wrong. It’s always easier to blame the messenger than the message, n’est ce pas?
Fox “News” was ostensibly created to combat this imagined liberal takeover of the media and claimed to show less bias in its reporting. Let me know how that works out for ya’ folks.
I have also heard, again for most of my life, how American universities are considered hubs of liberalism, which is why some consider them a threat to conservative thought. (special mention in my next column to whoever finds the oxymoron in this paragraph).
While reflecting upon whether or not either of these assumptions is true, it struck me that, if either are, I’m not sure that I mind. To wit:
The news media at large are our eyes and ears to the things that happen every day as well as to the people and groups who make them happen. They see the things that go on in the world and report them to us. They see the people, experience the emotions and, at times, hear the lies that are told in order for some to keep their powerful positions in society. Although not all of them are perfectly honest in their reporting, they are, for the most part, to be trusted to tell us what is happening.
These are also the people who get close to the newsmakers. Politicians allow them into news conferences; provide them with direct statements, reveal secrets “off-the-record” and so on. The people of the news media, irrespective their personal biases, receive this information first-hand. They are, truly, the insiders.
And for some reason these people who are directly connected to the most powerful in our government, these guardians of new and developing information, tend to lean ever so slightly to port. Hold that thought while you continue reading…
Colleges, for the most part, are accused of this as well. As someone who has attended two colleges so far, I can’t say that it’s overwhelmingly true, but I will admit that many of my professors have been guilty of pulling more to the left than the right.
Colleges and Universities are the guardians of our collective empirics. They protect the old information: the history of society, the lessons of the greatest and worst among us. They collect and preserve yesterday’s news, the hard sciences, political data, military and law enforcement data, knowledge of medicine and psychology, physics and geology, art and music as well as literature.
In many of these institutions new research helps us to progress in medicine, climate sciences and other complex intellectual pursuits. They guard us, when we pay attention to them, from repeating history’s blunders. They are our intellectual grounding.
My aforementioned refection on this topic led me to the conclusion that when someone identifies both those who are daily on the threshold of new information, learning and knowledge, as well as the custodians of the immeasurably valuable cache of lessons we have learned over the centuries as liberal, I can only wonder why anyone would want to argue.