The Problem With "Liberal Media Bias"

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

One of the animating principles of the right-wing blogosphere is that the mainstream media are composed almost entirely of snooty liberals who work in concert to promote progressive interests, elect Democratic officials, and suppress conservative thought.

It's a useful trope, in that it angries up the faithful and provides a convenient scapegoat for when the American public rejects conservative policies and/or politicians. However, it often butts up against the reality of a disjointed and hypercompetitive media landscape in which pageviews, not ideology, rule the day -- which itself is broken up into segments that must be "won."

Thus, when the press start reporting on something like the Obama administration's loan guarantees to the failed solar company Solyndra in ways that do not reflect well on the administration, the adherents of the "liberal media bias" theory have to somehow square the circle.

Enter Breitbart footsoldier John Nolte, who argues that the press are only reporting on Solyndra because we're too far from the election for the story to matter:

For now, these media reports might help to drag Barack Obama down into the thirties approval-wise, but we're only in the middle of the second act of The One's political story which means plenty of time remains for the thrilling 2012 comeback climax the MSM is most certainly crafting this very day.

You see, there's no mustache-twisting villain yet. Republicans haven't chosen a front-runner. But once the Right has a standard-bearer, the MSM will have their target -- their villain -- and Solyndra, the rise in poverty, chronic unemployment and even a second Great Recession will disappear from media-memory like last week's thrilling chapter of "The Perils of The One!"

Nolte also posits that the media are collectively "looking for cover," meaning that when Nolte and his comrades inevitably accuse them of bias sometime down the road they can hold up Solyndra as evidence of balance:

In the future, when the breathtaking bias they've shown these last few years is thrown in their smug faces, they'll attempt to defend their corruption by pointing to Solyndra in the same way they once pointed to their heavy coverage of Whitewater, which also hit its peak -- wait for it, wait for it -- when it didn't matter.

So the media aren't just liberal: they're diabolically liberal. Also, the Whitewater press frenzy set the table for the Clinton impeachment, which kinda undermines the idea that it ultimately "didn't matter."

The kind of mental gymnastics required to arrive at this explanation are pretty remarkable, and Nolte's theory does less to explain media behavior than the degree to which cynicism born from the "liberal media bias" canard has become inextricably woven into the modern conservative identity.

Person
Andrew Breitbart, John Nolte
Show/Publication
BigJournalism.com
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