Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Look out for the national liberal media! (Nov. 06 Manistee News Advocate)

Associate Editor

Representative Pete Hoekstra has an ad on the radio right now admonishing the “Liberal National Media.” After hearing about how they are ruining our way of life, I’m glad that I belong to the “non-biased local media.”Whew!I’m a little confused, though, as I tried to figure out just who he was talking about. Because the last time I checked, the most listened to radio personality is Rush Limbaugh, (a neo-conservative). As of 2005, Arbitron ratings indicate the show's audience to average 13.5 million listeners weekly, making it the largest radio talk show audience in the United States. Also, relative to all other television and radio programs in the United States, Limbaugh's audience has the highest percentage (56%) of hard news consumers. So, at least the liberal national media doesn’t have a hold of good old radio. Whew!On television, we’ve got the conservative, “no-spin-zone” Bill O’Reilly. O'Reilly is best known as the host of the cable news program The O'Reilly Factor, broadcast on the Fox News Channel. Between 2003 and the first half of 2006, it ranked #1 among cable news programs, averaging 2.2 million viewers daily in 2005. Well, at least on cable, the liberal national media isn’t in control. Whew!Many Republicans have shown concern in the last year or so that public broadcasting is liberal. I worked at a public broadcasting television station for a few years, and never saw the political agenda of Sesame Street, Barney, Elmo and The Antiques Roadshow. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough, though.Thank goodness that Patricia Harrison, the one time co-chair of the Republican National Committee, was named president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in June, and new non-liberal programming was added, such as “Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered” and “Journal Editorial Report,” -- which features the conservative Wall Street Journal's editorial board -- in order to get more conservative voices on air.Thanks to the republicans, I guess the liberal national media has been kicked out of public broadcasting. Whew!Which brings us to the commercial broadcasting networks, in which the big three have national news programs which are, shall we say, sucking wind, in the ratings department. Why? Because the traditional format of network news shows is to present the most un-biased, objective news reporting possible. BORING!The American public wants to hear opinions. They want Anderson Cooper, Bill O’Reilly, and the other “news personalities” to give them the “real inside scoop”. So viewers have flocked to cable news to be entertained and informed at the same time. Network news has shied away from controversy for years and quashed anyone with an opinion on the evening news; and the news tidbits we see in the morning on the networks are surrounded by so much fun and games that its hard to take the five minute news report even remotely seriously.So, network news is in too much of a tailspin to tow the line for the liberal media agenda. Whew!Then it must be the print media who are spearheading the liberal agenda. Here’s what the website My Direct Democracy found in their research about liberal bias in the newspaper industry:Since 1940 when industry trade magazine Editor & Publisher began tracking newspapers during presidential elections, only two Democratic candidates -- Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Bill Clinton in 1992 -- have ever won more endorsements than their Republican opponent. That's because newspaper publishers, who usually sign off on endorsements, tend to vote Republican (like lots of senior corporate executives), which means GOP candidates pick up more endorsements. A lot more. In 1984, President Reagan landed roughly twice as many endorsements as Democrat Walter Mondale in the president's easy reelection win. And in 1996, despite his weak showing at the polls, 179 daily newspapers endorsed Republican Bob Dole, which easily outpaced the Democrats' tally by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.So, at least the liberal national media hasn’t gotten a hold of the newspaper industry. Whew!What does that leave us with, then? Where is the liberal national media? In the minority, not the majority. Right where the conservatives want it.Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

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