The lib'ral media hate John McCain? You're joking, right?

I know it’s hard to believe, but apparently there are still people who believe that the mainstream media is “liberally biased”. After all, conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly tell them it is, so it must be true. It’s not like they might have an agenda or anything.

This is the same audience that thinks Fox News really is “fair and balanced”. All Fox News has really done is cheapened the meaning of those terms, along with others like “objective” and “independent”; in other words, if a news service identifies itself with one of those words, an obvious conservative bias is pretty much guaranteed.

This may be pure political calculation, but it is hard to believe that the political movement responsible for the Bush administration is capable of such Machiavellian chicanery. Even the great right-wing smear machine has been going bonkers lately, seemingly unsure if it should be hurling mud at its opponent or its own candidate.

More likely, conservatives believe this because it is burned directly into their worldview. The right-wing embraced paranoia in the nineties, and that fever has yet to run its course. Thus, if a news organization runs any story – any at all – critical of conservative views, then they must be liberally biased. To conservatives, a “fair and balanced” news media is one which runs nothing but stories favorable to them. To them, conservatism is the default, mainstream, “centrist” position. If so, one can only wonder what they consider “right-wing”.

Roy Edreso at alicublog points to this post at Instapundit, which is a perfect example of this mindset. It’s just too good not to pitpick:

RICK MORAN ON THE NYT'S McCain rejection. "The Times is dying. And the story of John McCain’s discarded op-ed is one of the big reasons why." It's almost as if they're not objective!

In the linked article, Moran makes this claim:

Scott Rasmussen has been polling the attitudes of voters toward the news media and has uncovered the not-so-startling statistic that 50% of independent voters believe that reporters favor Barack Obama and are trying to help him win.

From which he draws this rather surprising conclusion:

With half the country able to see through the gushing idolatry of the press and their shameless promotion of Obama’s candidacy, where does that leave journalistic standards like objectivity and fairness?

[Emphasis mine in all quotes, preceding and following.] I was unaware that 50% of American voters were independent, but that is precisely the claim Moran seems to be making above. Let’s check out that Rasmussen survey to which he links:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, taken just before the new controversy involving the Times erupted, found that 49% of voters believe most reporters will try to help the Democrat with their coverage…


Twenty-seven percent (27%) [of Democrats] believe most reporters are trying to help Obama…


Among Republicans, 78% believe reporters are trying to help Obama…


As for unaffiliated voters, 50% see a pro-Obama bias…

The Rasmussen article does not reveal the percentage each group comprised of the whole sample. Nevertheless, you can see a number of problems. If Moran is using the 49% figure, then it is obviously skewed by the overwhelming number of Republicans who perceive bias in the media. If he is using the 50% figure, then that applies only to independent voters, and not to the sample as a whole.

It would appear that Moran is engaging in a bit of biased reporting himself, giving his gullible readers the impression that bias is perceived by a far greater percentage of the general public than the Rasmussen results actually reveal. And Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a., the guy who writes Instapundit) is passing along that bias to an even wider audience of gullible readers.

Let’s move on the second sentence in the Instapundit post:

Michael Silence quotes an observer:: "By sending their biggest stars across the globe to interview Obama, ABC, CBS and NBC have reinforced the notion that the Democrat is getting an easy ride." Plus, if you report embarrassing things about Obama, you get kicked off the plane! If a Republican did this, it would be fascism . . . .

You mean like John McCain creating a special VIP section in his new plane where reporters have to “earn” the right to sit and talk with him?

It is absurd to claim that the corporate news media have given Obama a “free ride” while hammering away on poor ole war hero John McCain. McCain has been the recipient of the media’s unending teenage-crush swooning since the primaries began. They have ignored his innumerable gaffes on foreign policy, his daily flip-flops on policy issues, his ties to shady lobbyists – in short, just about every reason that he should not be president, conservative or not. In fact, they even presented him with donuts! (Not the terrorist sort, obviously.)

The rest of the Instapundit post just goes on in the same vein; Edroso provides plenty of examples of why it is bunk. Reynolds is merely recycling the old trope, that the honest, hard-workin’ conservatives are being picked on by the big, mean lib’ral media. He ignores all the evidence to the contrary, because that would undermine the narrative he and his colleagues are pushing.

Bias is built directly into the conservative media machine. Conservative websites, including blogs like Instapundit, almost never link to the sites of their liberal adversaries; whereas liberal sites often provide links, if only so that readers can see for themselves just how ridiculous the conservative arguments really are. If a story cannot be twisted to fit the conservative narrative, right-wing pundits and wannabe pundits simply ignore it, no matter how big and important it is; for example, see how many mentions of Nouri al-Maliki’s recent endorsement of a timetable for withdrawal of US troops you can find among those honest conservatives.

The reason for this is simple: after almost eight years of Republican mismanagement, the conservative worldview is full of holes. John McCain’s support among conservatives is small and tenuous, and the Republican base has been shrinking for some time. The conservatives need to hold onto as many supporters as they can, even if it means misleading them and keeping them ignorant of real-world events. The Republicans built a well-oiled (no pun intended) media machine for doing this, but it is also a result of the conservative worldview itself.

Conservatism is unable to tolerate dissenting views. Conservative pundits keep the bad thoughts out by simply ignoring or rewriting them to fit their preconceptions. I can easily imagine Reynolds being unable to process mentally the sycophantic treatment McCain has received from the media; he can only engage in pareidolia, seeing the contents of his own mind projected onto the media environment. He probably does think that the corporate-owned and operated, advertiser-driven news media is really biased against him.

In other words, if you read about in a conservative magazine or blog, or see it on Fox News, there is a greater than average chance that what they are telling you is a lie.

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