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What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the Newsby Eric Alterman
Synopses & Reviews
In 2001, Bernard Goldberg published an exposé claiming to prove the overwhelming liberal bias of the mainstream news media. If there were any doubt his ideas were being taken seriously, the front-page photograph of George Bush with a copy of Bias under his arm quickly put them to rest. As a pundit and newsmaker, Goldberg had entered the big leagues. But was his thesis true? According to Eric Alterman, Goldberg is not only wrong, he's deliberately misleading, part of a broader conservative strategy of "working the refs." What Liberal Media? is a must-read for any citizen interested in the health of our news media, or in the current battles between Right and Left. Martin, Powells.com
The question of whose interests the media protects — and how — has achieved holy-grail-like significance. Is media bias keeping us from getting the whole story? If so, who is at fault? Is it the liberals who are purported to be running the newsrooms, television and radio stations of this country, duping an unsuspecting public into mistaking their party line for news? Or is it the conservatives who have identified media bias as a reliably inflammatory rallying cry around which to consolidate their political base as they cynically "work the refs"? The media has become so pervasive in our lives that regardless of exactly where on the ideological fence you sit, the question of media bias has become all but unavoidable.
Most of the criticism (and anger) has so far emanated from the political Right, which has offered us the rather unconvincing argument that a systematic Left bias is destroying the quality of news and debate in our country today. Journalist and historian Eric Alterman begs to differ.
What Liberal Media? confronts the question of liberal bias and, in so doing, provides a sharp and utterly convincing assessment of the realities of political bias in the news. In distinct contrast to the conclusions reached by Ann Coulter, Bernard Goldberg, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly, Alterman finds the media to be, on the whole, far more conservative than liberal, though it is possible to find evidence for both views. The fact that conservatives howl so much louder and more effectively than liberals is one significant reason that big media is always on its guard for "liberal" bias but gives conservative bias a free pass.
After reading What Liberal Media? you will understand that the real news story of recent years is not whether this newspaper, or that news anchor, is biased but rather to what extent the entire news industry is organized to communicate conservative views and push our politics to the right — regardless of how "liberal" any given reporter may be.
"[W]hatever your politics, Alterman delivers well-documented, well-argued research in compulsively readable form. His chapter on business journalism, for instance, is a thrill-ride....Whether readers agree with Alterman or not, his writing on the business of opinion making is eye-opening. This book will be required reading for anyone in politics or journalism, or anyone curious about their complicated nexus." Publishers Weekly
"Highly readable and well documented, this makes an effective antidote to Slander, Ann Coulter's screed (which Alterman takes on full force); it will be interesting to see if he gets the same amount of media time she did, despite his being neither leggy nor blonde. The myth of the liberal media is an idea that is gaining currency; this is a strong opening salvo in that much-needed discussion." Ilene Cooper, Booklist
"[A] sobering reminder that TV long ago abandoned serious journalism and that watchdogs and skeptics are thin on the ground in all media — bad news for those who believe a vibrant, informative press is one of the bedrocks of democracy." Kirkus Reviews
"Like most media commentators, Alterman probably overestimates the influence of media commentators, but the meticulous care with which his arguments are sourced and footnoted is in commendable contrast to the efforts of some of his more fire-breathing conservative opponents." The New Yorker
Book News Annotation:
Alterman (media columnist for The Nation) debunks the right-wing myth of the "liberal media," taking on the allegations of liberal slant proffered in such books as Ann Coulter's Slander and Bernard Goldberg's Bias. After describing the contrary evidence to many of the assertions contained in those and similar books, he describes the network of corporate funded conservative think tanks and their ability to influence the message of the "punditocracy," taking on such figures as the Washington Post's David Broder, conservative media critic Howard Kurtz, radio host Rush Limbaugh. He then turns to media treatment of the Clinton administration, the 2000 elections, George W. Bush, and a range of social and political issues, arguing that their presentation to the public was skewed in a distinctly rightward direction. A new afterword examines media treatment of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Refuting the claim that mainstream media has a liberal slant, a media expert and influential journalist exposes the fallacy of a left-wing conspiracy, arguing that it is corporate news structure, rather than individual journalists, that determine what the public sees and hears in broadcast or print
"Bold, counterintuitive, and cathartic.... Alterman is ready for a bar fight, and he comes out swinging."New York Times Book Review
Widely acclaimed and hotly contested, veteran journalist Eric Alterman's ambitious investigation into the true nature of the U.S. news media touched a nerve and sparked debate across the country. As the question of whose interests the media protects — and how — continues to raise hackles, Alterman's sharp, utterly convincing assessment cuts through the cloud of inflammatory rhetoric, settling the question of liberal bias in the news once and for all. Eye-opening, witty, and thoroughly and solidly researched, What Liberal Media? is required reading for media watchers, and anyone concerned about the potentially dangerous consequences for the future of democracy in America.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -292) and index.
About the Author
Eric Alterman currently writes the "Stop the Presses" media column for the Nation and the "Altercation" web log for MSNBC.com. In recent years, he has been a contributing editor to, or columnist for Worth, Rolling Stone, Elle, Mother Jones, World Policy Journal, and the Sunday Express (London). His Sound and Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy (1992/2000), won the 1992 George Orwell Award and his It Ain't No Sin To Be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen (1999), won the 1999 Stephen Crane Literary Award. He is also the author of Who Speaks for America? Why Democracy Matters in Foreign Policy (1998), and When Presidents Lie: Deception and Its Consequences, which is forthcoming. A senior fellow of the World Policy Institute at New School University, and an affiliated faculty member in the magazine journalism program at New York University, Alterman received his B.A. in History and Government from Cornell, his M.A. in International Relations from Yale, and his Ph.D. in U.S. History from Stanford. He was born in Queens, New York and lives with his family in Manhattan.
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