Hypocrisy, the MSM, and “neutral” storylines
Posted by Lissa on August 13, 2010
One of the things that started my transition to an Evil Conservative was the realization that the media was institutionally biased. (Stop laughing, y’all! I really didn’t know!) As I’ve written before, I tried really hard to have a balanced viewpoint: I read the New York Times every day and articles from the Economist/Wall Street Journal/Al Jazeera every few days. You know, for balance. When I started realizing HOW biased they were, I was furious. I felt betrayed. I felt ashamed and foolish – I’d been working so hard to stay current and informed, and all I’d been getting was one side of the story.
Ace has a bang-up post on how bias in the MSM works:
But consider the case of Sestack and Specter: The media will once again have its choice of two “neutral story lines” when that primary is resolved. It’s heads the Democrats win, tails the Republicans lose, as far as the media is concerned.
If Sestack wins, the media will in fact push the “neutral story line” they could have pushed, but chose not to, in Bennet’s case: That we’re retiring an old warhorse in favor of a fresh face and that proves that our system works.
On the other hand, if Specter wins, they’ll push the “neutral story line” that the Democrats, unlike Republicans, are welcoming of moderates. (And Specter, a moderate Republican turncoat now voting as a somewhat-less-moderate Democrat, is still pretty moderate.) So that story line does have something to it.
But we’ll have no stories about “overly-partisan and inflexibly ideological Democrats driving out a true moderate and fence-crosser” if Specter should lose — trust that. Instead we’ll have the other supposedly-neutral story line, the one that once again just happens to wind up praising Democrats.
And this is how media bias works 75% of the time. Most of the time, the media is selecting between several possible “rules,” many of which are arguably correct, but which are contradicted by nearly opposite rules, which are also arguably correct. The media never decides which rule is correct in the most cases; instead, they choose whichever “rule” benefits the Democrats this cycle.
Are we too interested in personal scandals which don’t really have much to do with a party’s governing philosophy? The answer is “No” if you mean Mark Foley or Mark Sanford; the answer is “Yes” if you mean Eric Massa or John Edwards.
Here’s how it works: When a Republican is caught in a sex scandal, his party affiliation is extremely relevant because the Republican Party stands broadly for family values and sexual restraint, so party affiliation is very relevant, as it shows hypocrisy, that is, it tends to undermine the public image of the party.
Is that true? Actually, standing alone, that is basically true! Standing alone, I could see that rule as defensible.
Now, what happens when a Republican is caught in a money scandal? Well, that’s not really hypocrisy, really, as Republicans have the reputation of being into dirty filthy money. But in that case — in the case of a money scandal — the media says noting the Republican’s affiliation is relevant because it reinforces widely-held public opinion about the party.
Do you see the brilliance of that? Of those two rules together? Republicans get hammered — not just personally, but the sins are attributed to the party as a whole — on sex scandals because sex scandals undermine the party’s public image, so noting the party is relevant; and money scandals also get attributed to the party as a whole, and party affiliation is very relevant there, too, because such scandals reinforce the party’s public image.
Heads the MFM wins, tails, the GOP loses.
So these two rules, taken together, mean that in 99.9% of all scandals, the party affiliation of the Republican is very relevant to the story, in the MFM’s eyes. That this is a scandal not just of a fallen man, but of a fallen party, which is tainted along with that man.
Now: Does the media use the same rules with Democrats?
Click over to find out. (I’m sure you already know the answer, but the post is awesome so go click anyway.)
Borepatch has the nice companion piece featuring Time Magazine and the Gores:
Pistolero pretty well guts the PMRC’s (Parent’s Music Resource Center, the Gore’s institution set up to fight the scourge of “satanic” music) arguments, so I won’t comment on that other than to saw RTWT.
What I will comment on, however, is the curious lack of coverage from the same Dinosaur Media on this. It seems to be almost a clone of the Larry Craig scandal: some blue-nose, big-mouth politician makes a lot of noise about the threat to morality by issue X, and then turns around and does a 100% reversal on issue X.
It’s not even like the Clinton episode – after all, by the time Monica came around nobody thought for a minute that Bill was the sort of guy you let escort your daughter to the Prom. Bit [sic] Al and Tipper did a 180° turn when he ran for vice president, courting the Music Industry’s money.
How do you say “Vote ’em all out” to the media?
Was last night some kind of fun, or what?? That hour FLEW by. Our gracious hostesses were Most Fabulous and Jay G was great company. Me, I think I did okay — the only stated complaint was the worry that listening to me any longer would cause diabetes. Oh, and apparently I have an accent, and it’s “a cute Northern accent” rather than a caffeine-mainlining Elmo accent. I’ll take it!
Happy Friday, everyone!!