Death of a Fantasy

News media claim what they never earned.
by Jim Fair | Source:

I’m going to reveal a deep, dark secret of the news media.

If you are faint of heart, don’t keep reading.  Don’t let young children read this.  Prepare to be shocked and appalled.

Here it is:  the news media are not objective…never have been…never will be.

Somewhere back in the 1950s, during the days of the so-called “fairness doctrine” the idea noodled around that news media should be fair and balanced.  But any reasonable study of the history of journalism shows that this was an exception, not the rule.

About 600 years ago, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press.  His first print job?  The Bible.  There wasn’t anything impartial about this; he wanted to promote Christianity

In Colonial America, newspapers sprung up to present a point a view and were instrumental in building support for the American Revolution.  A century later, newspapers were key in generating opposition to slavery.

In other words, the news media have always been about pushing social change – or trying to protect an existing idea or policy.

There was a general rule of thumb when I attended journalism school several decades ago:  Republicans owned newspapers and Democrats occupied the newsrooms.  Today, we would have to add a second rule:  Democrats occupy the television stations and Republicans command the radio waves.

One of the great debates over late-night beer when I was in college was whether the news media should be objective.  The conventional wisdom was that objectivity was impossible to obtain, so you needed to admit your biases.

Since then, the news media certainly have provided they lack objectivity, but have usually continued to claim it. 

Frankly, the only honest commentators are a handful of conservative talk radio hosts who admit openly their point of view.  The television networks and major newspapers cling to an illusion of disinterest.

They are only fooling themselves.

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