Bias upon Bias upon Bias

Scripps-Howard News Service 12.19.01
Balint Vazsonyi

Of the many reviews about Bernard Goldberg's book "Bias," reading Janet Maslin's in The New York Times is economical because you get the point without having to buy Mr. Goldberg's book. If you are in a hurry, you need not read the article - merely the headline: "A Network Veteran Bites The Hands That Feed Him."

Was there, could there have been, a similar headline when, say, John Dean III, White House counsel to President Richard Nixon, spilled the beans about his employer?


And so, the bias stares us in the face at first glance. It is hard to believe that a newspaper of The New York Times's caliber fails to realize what it is doing. And yet, it is not hard to believe. The one-dimensional political bias has such deep roots in most of our elite media (Ms. Maslin's terminology) that its all-pervasive presence is natural as oxygen in the air.

The bias about "Bias" continues with a gratuitous sideswipe against Bill O'Reilly of Fox News. Mr. O'Reilly's current successes must irritate many, witness a conversation not long ago on NBC's "Today" between anchor Katie Couric and actor George Clooney, during which they wrapped every mention of O'Reilly's name in derisory laughter.

Ms. Maslin then proceeds to tell us that "Bias" needs to be taken seriously and concedes the infrequency of labeling anyone a "liberal." (Make that never, as demonstrated by ABC-TV president David Westin's inability to answer my recently-published letter in six years.) But what follows is dismemberment, one way or the other, of every tangible example Ms. Maslin cites from Bernard Goldberg's book.

Item: "He uses data from the Center for Media and Public Affairs to suggest that rumors of a heterosexual AIDS outbreak were greatly exaggerated and that many of those affected caught the virus via drug use or sex...But his argument is weakened by what he leaves unsaid: that the condition of a person with AIDS is not improved by blaming the victim."

Other than picking a gratuitous argument, what does "improving the condition of a person" have to do with distorted reporting?

Item: "[His argument] is also diminished by willfully unreasonable analogies: 'Why should the children of Jesse Jackson or Colin Powell or Diana Ross get some kind of racial preference when they apply to college or go out for a job, but no 'affirmative action' is given to the child of a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant coal miner from West Virginia?' An example that loaded is as unfair as the weighted news stories he denounces."

Really, Ms. Maslin? It seems, preferences have created an America exactly as ridiculous as Mr. Goldberg suggests.

Item: "The most important bias to contemplate here is the one against serious, unglamorous news." That is Ms. Maslin's final conclusion after reading what must be a devastating indictment of media moguls, producers, editors and newscasters arrogating powers never contemplated by the men who wrote the Supreme Law of our land.

Should anyone wish to look at a perfect demonstration of outrageous bias in The New York Times itself, I recommend the December 13 editorial, "Tearing Up the ABM Treaty." You would never suspect that the other party to the treaty, known as the Soviet Union, was responsible for killing tens of millions of people, enslaving half of Europe, and pursuing America's extinction as its official policy for decades. You would never suspect that Russia, unlike Germany, washed its hands of all its crimes against humanity, claiming to be a victim, and not the successor, of the Soviet Union, except where it yielded tangible benefits.

Media bias has been deeply embedded in our society since the cataclysmic events of the 1960s. I would like to propose that alone some equally cataclysmic event could rid us of its plague within a reasonable time frame. Such an event would be America's willingness to dispense with the misnomers "left," "liberal," and "progressive," and identify the philosophical roots of the bias as reflecting the socialist-communist way of thinking.

Most people I know, including most "conservatives," howl at the suggestion, yet it would be our best panacea. I believe the overwhelming majority of Americans, including most media persons with a "left" bias, would change their attitudes overnight if they realized where it originated. Most Americans detest socialism/communism in any form, and would not wish to promote it.

As my contribution, the next column will offer an itemized list of socialist-communist attitudes and practices that have found their way into our daily lives.

Let the process begin!