Friday, November 03, 2006

Thomas Sowell on Media Bias

Thomas Sowell makes several good points about media bias in this NRO column. His assertions, at least as to the issues we deal with here at Secondhand Smoke, are very well taken. I have concluded that media are like a high school clique. They often seem to decide the story first and then fit the facts to their perception. Once the story line is determined, facts that belie their take--even very important and pertinent facts--are often ignored or barely mentioned. Then, reporters who may come late to the story rely on the earlier reports and hence, regurgitate the skewed story line, until error often becomes perceived fact. As a consequence, a materially false impression is left for people who don't follow these matters closely. All they hear are mantras, to wit:

--Embryonic stem cells offer the "best hope" when the published science seems to rebut that claim. Look at the complete refusal to mention the artificial liver made from umbilical cord blood stem cells. That didn't fit the template, so it is ignored.

--Michael Schiavo was just Terri's "husband," strongly implying he had remained loyal to her throughout her disability, when, in fact, he had two children by another woman with whom he was engaged, meaning that he had abandoned the marriage.

--Jack Kevorkian is still referred to as the retired doctor who assisted "terminally ill" patients in suicide, even though from the very beginning of his reign of death, most of the people he helped kill were not terminally ill.

This is not good for media, because it alienates many customers who turn away out of distrust and disgust. (Not coincidentally, the circulation rates are dropping like stones at most major newspapers.) More importantly, the mass journalistic malpractice to which we are so often subjected is bad for democracy because it inhibits a free people from basing their decisions on complete and accurate data.

6 Comments:

At November 03, 2006 , Blogger Deep Toad said...

They often seem to decide the story first and then fit the facts to their perception.

Brother, you just said a mouthful.

 
At November 03, 2006 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

And I am gagging on it.

 
At November 03, 2006 , Blogger Al said...

As I said in my comments on the artifical liver about the MSM, or as I like to call them the Out of the Mainstream Media, each time they ignore or misrepresent the facts they drive more nails in their coffin when the truth gets out via other sources.

Yet, they keep thinking what they are doing is reporting the news honestly. I guess in their own little fantasy world, they are. But in the real world if someone was as delusional as they are they would be locked up in a padded cell & given psychiatric treatment to help them get in touch with reality.

It is sad to see how far the MSM has fallen, even people like Walter Cronkite, whom I used to have a lot of respect for.

 
At November 03, 2006 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

It is sad, because we all rely on them for news. However, perhaps with the realization that there are legions of "Truth Sqauds" looking over their shoulder, they will clean up their acts. I fear they will have to hit bottom first, however.

 
At November 04, 2006 , Blogger Susan said...

The problem is if the local media or the wire services can't get the facts right or are pushing what better-organized people say what is the truth, then the entire media food chain becomes corrupted.

After all, few media outlets can afford to have their own reporters at every location in the country, much less the world.

I am thinking here of the Schiavo case. The basic facts were so twisted by the media, thanks to the St. Petersburg Times and AP's Mitch Stacy, people actually believed the nonsense it was a "right-to-die" case and a case of "state's rights" "separation of powers," and whatever nonsense crackpot attorney George Felos was pushing.

Basic objective facts, which were ignored by an incompetent judge, were also ignored by the media. Opposition was depicted as a bunch of rosary-carrying, right-to-life theocrats, thanks to the propaganda by Michael Schiavo's connections. Never mind Schiavo was and is as transparently phony and uncredible as O.J. Simpson.

 
At November 04, 2006 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Exactly right about the entire food chain becoming corrupted. Also, they are utterly naive about the "experts" whose views they favor, and very skeptical of commentator from the side with which they disagree.

 

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