This Is What Liberal Media Bias Looks Like (To The Rest Of Us)

When conservatives deliver sermons on the liberal biased mainstream media, first I wonder what exactly constitutes “mainstream.” I suppose if you aren’t mainstream, then you are what some call “new” or “alternative” media, but do conservatives really believe Fox News falls into this surrogate classification? I grant we could assign Fox News to a class of its own, but even if their brand nurtures a conservative echo chamber, I find it troublesome to view a high-rated cable news network as anything other than predominant. That makes Fox News very much part of the mainstream, never mind the radio airwaves dominated by conservative talk. And we haven’t even dived into the corporate owned news. Just how often do we apply the “liberal” label to media conglomerates? So when conservatives refer to the mainstream media, they definitely aren’t including Fox News, or conservative radio, or the corporate entities that own all media, because that might detract from their directive.

Next I start to think about what it takes to build the liberal bias perception. When conservatives say there is liberal media bias, should we put any stock in this indictment? How much of a role did political disposition play in coloring their assessment? How permeable is their ideological filter? Because the media is not burdened by the need to gratify a conservative worldview, nor appease a persecutory delusion. The absence of these reparations is not proof of liberal bias. It is also not the media’s job to pander to a mythical center, even if many mainstream outlets attempt to do just that. Our left-right political framework is not balancing upon a midpoint of truth. Nowhere is it written into law that facts should emerge from the center, even if the center happens to be where most people live.

To understand the liberal bias allegation, it’s useful to visualize it as the inside of a movie theater. All the way over in the right-wing of the theater, in the very last seat up against the wall, sits a moviegoer. He couldn’t possibly get any further to the right lest he tear away the fabric, claw through the drywall, and traumatize little Johnny in the neighboring theater. And all dearly beloved does after each movie is complain to management about the unfairly biased movie screen. “It’s so obviously tilted to the left,” he says while stomping on his spilled popcorn. In fact the movie screen is facing forward, dead center, you know, where most patrons are enjoying the show. But from our darling’s viewpoint, the screen appears to be leaning away, showing favoritism to the left-wing of the theater.

At no point does it occur to precious that the bias he is observing is an illusion, one he created when he chose to sit on the far right, and only enhanced by his self-radicalizing martyrdom. That he retains the agency to shift this paradigm simply by choosing a better seat, never once tickles his intellect. Instead of recognizing what  is undeniable, doll face continues to gripe to management, demanding they fix their “biased” movie screen, even though it would do a disservice to most people in the theater.

When you try to figure out what liberal bias looks like when it doesn’t exist, you end up with a middle-aged white guy having a temper tantrum, indiscriminately hurling his popcorn, and scaring the children.

Photo by Kevin Burkett via Flickr

Photo by Kevin Burkett via Flickr

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